Q. I have been diagnosed with Osteoarthritis but want to go along the natural route and have been told that diet can help a lot with this condition. What foods should I be eating?
Osteoarthritis is a condition that affects the joints. It is the most common type of arthritis in the UK. The symptoms of osteoarthritis vary greatly from person to person, and between different affected joints.
The NHS state that there are three key characteristics of osteoarthritis these are:
1. Mild inflammation of the tissues in and around the joints
2. Damage to cartilage, the strong, smooth surface that lines the bones and allows joints to move easily and without friction
3. Bony growths that develop around the edge of the joints.
Arthritis means inflammation (itis) of a joint (arthron). There is no ‘cure’ for osteoarthritis, but the symptoms could be eased. The core of a nutritional based approach is based on the theory that osteoarthritis could be a result of underlying biological systems being out of sync. These underlying biological processes are dependant on nutrients, when we get the right nutrients in the body it could be possible to reduce inflammation and even reduce pain.
One of the single most important factors is keeping blood sugar levels even. This is of the utter most importance as one of the main causes of inflammation and damage to the joints is glycation, this is damage caused by sugar. Gylcation is inflammation that is caused by sugar imbalances. This could be why there is a strong link between diabetes and arthritis, and diabetics often have more severe arthritis than non diabetic sufferers (1). Balance blood sugar levels by eating regularly, swapping processed food for natural foods, and eating protein with carbohydrates.
Example of this are
Unsalted nuts with whole fresh fruit.
Wholemeal bread and poached eggs with tomatoes and mushrooms
Salmon and rice served with fresh steamed greens
Almond nut butter on oat cakes
Herbs and spices are also another important ingredient, not only for adding flavours to dishes but research has highlighted that they could also be very effective at reducing pain caused by inflammation. The most interesting being:-
Curcumin found in turmeric, Quercetin found in tea, red onions and apples, ginger, Bromelain found in pineapples, and hydroxytyrosol found in olives. These work within the body in a similar way as the most popular anti-inflammatory drugs NSAIDs, they block COX-1 and COX-2 which produce thromboxane and prostacyclin which cause pain and inflammation.
Make sure that you increase your consumption of these foods and include them in your daily diet.
There is mounting research that conclusively shows that fish oil supplementation can help reduce the inflammation of arthritis. Fish oil is high in Omega 3, eating two servings of oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring or fresh tuna is advisable.
Before supplementing your diet, even with over the counter nutrients always check with a qualified professional. As many nutrients do similar jobs to medication for example both aspirin and fish oil both thin the blood, the same is true for medication such as warfarin. So it is always best to check that the supplements you want to take are compatible with any medication or existing condition that you may have.
If you require any further information why not book a one to one consultation and get your own personalised diet.
1 L.Sokoloff ‘Endemic forms of osteoarthritis’ Clinics in Rheumatic disease vol 11 1985
2 R.J Goldberg ‘A meta-analysis of the analgestic effects of omega 3, polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation for inflammatory joint pain’ Pain vol 129 2007