Arthritis can take away some of your favorite activities and make daily living very uncomfortable or even painful. When it comes to managing this condition, there are certain triggers that you should be aware of.
Find out what parts of your diet might be contributing to your osteoarthritis symptoms. You can take control of your pain and minimize it once you have this important knowledge.
The Science Behind Arthritis
There are two main types of arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is considered an autoimmune disease and is different from osteoarthritis. On the other hand, osteoarthritis is caused by the breakdown of joint cartilage.
Your bones are surrounded by a fleshy material called cartilage, which provides them with cushion and flexibility. This is what allows you to move around, bend down, and absorb impact when you’re walking or running.
Many people call osteoarthritis a “wear and tear” disease because it often results from overuse and strain on your joints. Aging is a leading cause of osteoarthritis — your body can only maintain healthy joints for so long.
After many long years of movement, your joint cartilage can start to disintegrate. Some people develop bone spurs that harden and cause lots of discomfort.
Once your bones lose the support and cushion of cartilage, you may experience joint stiffness and pain. Your mobility may suffer, making it hard to complete normal daily activities. Osteoarthritis can be debilitating if left untreated.
Food, Inflammation, and Osteoarthritis: What’s the Link?
You might be wondering how your diet can affect your joint pain. The things you eat (or don’t eat) can have a strong impact on your overall comfort levels, especially if you struggle with arthritis symptoms regularly.
Certain foods contain inflammatory compounds that promote swelling and discomfort in your body. If you already suffer from osteoarthritis, this extra inflammation will cause more pain and discomfort, which can worsen existing mobility issues.
On the other hand, some foods contain anti-inflammatory compounds that help fight inflammation and discomfort. These are the foods you want to regularly incorporate into your diet.
Learn which foods to avoid if you suffer from osteoarthritis so you can remain comfortable and active around the clock.
Avoid High-Sugar Foods and Drinks
Foods and beverages with high sugar content are known for their pro-inflammatory effects. Refined sugars cause your body to release compounds called cytokines, which have inflammatory effects on your cells and tissues. This can worsen your joint pain from osteoarthritis.
Additionally, inflammation may contribute to further breakdown of the cartilage between your joints. If you want to protect your health while living with this condition, avoid packaged and processed snacks and drinks that have high sugar content.
Some examples of high-sugar foods and drinks include:
- Sweetened coffee drinks
- Frozen desserts
- Energy drinks
Avoid these foods to increase your comfort and decrease your osteoarthritis symptoms.
Simple Carbs: White Bread, Rice, and Other Refined Foods
Along with added sugar, simple carbohydrates are found in many “white” foods. This means that foods like white bread, white rice, and potato chips are loaded with simple carbs that could contribute to worsening symptoms.
Simple carbohydrates affect your body differently than complex carbs, which are good for your health. Similar to refined sugars, simple carbs have pro-inflammatory effects and can lead to rapid weight gain. The more you weigh, the more pressure your joints have to deal with every day.
Avoid simple carbs and opt for whole-grain foods like brown rice instead.
Saturated Fat Causes Weight Gain and Joint Strain
Foods that are high in saturated fats are bad for your health. Many researchers and medical bodies believe that eating a diet high in saturated fats exponentially increases your risk for heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
When you eat too much saturated fats, you’re likely consuming more calories than you burn. This can cause you to pack on extra pounds that are detrimental to your health. Excess weight puts strain on your joints and cartilage, which makes osteoarthritis symptoms far worse.
Opt for healthier fats instead from sources like:
- Olive oil
- Nuts and seeds
These sources of fat will benefit your health and help you avoid debilitating osteoarthritis symptoms. Look into an anti-inflammatory diet to potentially help.
Don’t Overdo the Fast Food and Fried Treats
Eating fried foods is never good for your heart health, joints, and waistline. While these foods can be enjoyed in moderation, it’s important to prioritize home-cooked meals over fried and fast foods.
Fast food is often high in simple carbs, saturated fat, and sodium. These compounds contribute to inflammation and weight gain, which, in turn, causes more joint pain and discomfort. Many people with osteoarthritis experience more joint pain and stiffness the day after eating fried and fast foods.
Instead of eating foods fried in oil, try baking foods like vegetables and fish with a light coating of olive oil spray. This will reduce the amount of calories in your meal and help you avoid fried treats — a win-win situation for your joint health.
Limit Your Dairy Intake
Dairy has been a part of the standard American diet for many years. However, eating too much dairy in one sitting can spell bad news for your health. Osteoarthritis can flare up if you eat excessive amounts of dairy from low-quality sources.
When dairy is mass-produced, it goes through a process called pasteurization. This process removes many harmful bacteria that can get into raw cow’s milk, but it doesn’t eliminate the inflammatory compounds.
Human digestive tracts were not originally designed to break down lactose, a key compound in cow’s milk. Other compounds in cow’s milk can worsen your health as well. This means that when you have a condition like osteoarthritis, it’s best to limit your dairy intake.
Managing Your Life with Osteoarthritis
Making dietary changes can significantly improve your quality of life if you’re living with osteoarthritis. While you can’t always avoid developing this condition, you can live a satisfying life and manage your symptoms.
If you want to protect your health and reduce the amount of strain on your joints, consider avoiding these common osteoarthritis triggers.