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Osahon Okodugha: Why You Should Watch Your Diet If You Have Arthritis

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Many of us celebrated the holidays by having good meals with our family and friends. This indulgence may have included all things sweet and savoury, but for those who have arthritis, the excess intake of sugar, and poor diet may pose a threat to their health.  

Arthritis is a degenerative disease that affects the bones and joints, causing pain and inflammation in these joints. Arthritis is common in aging adults, however, it can occur in people of any age and even children. This chronic condition is primarily managed conservatively by physiotherapists

How does my diet impact my arthritis?

You are what you eat, literally. As a patient suffering from arthritis, consuming everything and anything will increase inflammation. Once you have been diagnosed with arthritis, or are at an age that puts you at risk of arthritis, it is essential to control your diet. Many foods and beverages have processed sugar in them. It is important to review boxes, cans, and labels before consuming any items. This can reduce the risk, and the negative effects arthritis has on your health.

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis 

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease that affects the hands, wrist, and knees. It also affects the lungs, hearts, and eyes and, in this capacity, affects the whole body. 

Studies show that certain patients who eat foods such as blueberries, spinach, desserts, and sweetened soda can increase the inflammation of arthritis, especially in women. 

  • Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most commonly occurring form of arthritis. It occurs when tissues within the joints break down. It affects the knee, hips, and spine and can cause severe pain. People with osteoarthritis must refrain from consuming sugary foods. Diets with sugar cause obesity and increase inflammation. Consumption of oxidant-rich foods, vegetables, vitamins A, E, and C, whole grains, can help control arthritis.

  • Gout

Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis that occurs when there are higher levels of uric acid in the bloodstream than normal. Gout affects one joint at a time.  Consuming foods containing sugar and fructose, such as soda and orange juice contributes to an increase in uric acid levels in the body. 

Why should I avoid certain foods if I have arthritis?

What you ingest can aggravate the inflammation. Certain foods are best avoided, or if you must have them, they must be a minimum quantity.  

Some foods that should be avoided/ minimized are:

  • Alcohol and soda
  • Beverages or foods with added Sugar
  • Trans fat
  • Omega-6
  • Saturated fat
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Refined carbohydrates

Healthy dietary alternatives for people with arthritis 

There are healthy alternatives you can use as a replacement for sugar, cooking oil, and other foods. If you must add a sweetener to your tea, raw honey is a suitable alternative. Replace desserts with fruits like watermelon, pawpaw, and so on. Use oils such as corn and sunflower oil, canola oil, olive oil, and coconut oil for cooking. Eat lots and lots of vegetables and minimize alcohol intake. 

Before you change your diet, speak with your healthcare provider to discuss the options.  Always bear in mind that the key to a good diet and healthy living is moderation. Minimizing what you consume can drastically alleviate inflammation.

 

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

Osahon Okodugha is a Physiotherapist, Clinical Director, and Founder of St. Joseph's Physiotherapy clinic in Lekki. He obtained his first degree in Physiotherapy from the University of Ghana, Legon, and Masters Degree from the University of Lagos. He is currently undergoing his PhD, also at the University of Lagos. He is passionate about healthcare in Nigeria and Africa, and is dedicated to improving the physical therapy and rehabilitation structures and outcomes in Nigeria. He often publishes health and disease prevention/management content on his blog https://stjosephsphysio.com/physio-blog?blog=y

3 Comments

  1. Tunde

    January 12, 2022 at 1:08 pm

    Nice one

  2. Ariyo Racheal Oluwatoyin

    January 12, 2022 at 5:39 pm

    This is very helpful, thank you.

  3. Adaobi Igboanugo

    January 13, 2022 at 2:06 am

    Great article!

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