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When it comes to treating arthritis, some think of medication or physical treatments to alleviate the effects. But did you know that what you eat can also have an impact on these symptoms?
Arthritis is a chronic and sadly incurable disease that refers to a group of more than 100 conditions affecting the joints and other tissues. According to the Arthritis Society, one in five Canadians has arthritis.
There are two broad categories of arthritis:
If left untreated, arthritis can affect the quality of life of anyone who has it. In fact, arthritis that is not properly managed can cause joint pain at rest or during movement, fatigue, stiffness and reduced mobility.
While there is no treatment that can cure arthritis, eating healthy may lessen the effects.
Depending on the type of arthritis you have, different foods can help reduce or prevent inflammation, strengthen your immune system, increase your energy level, decrease stress and keep you in shape to protect your joints.
Here are some examples of foods recommended by the Arthritis Society and the Arthritis Foundation®:
Studies have also shown that the DASH diet - designed to help lower or control high blood pressure - and the Mediterranean diet - rich in plant products and healthy fats - may lessen the effects of arthritis because they are made up of foods that help reduce inflammation.
The Arthritis Society also advises people with arthritis to follow Health Canada’s recommendations by referring to Canada’s Food Guide, which places special emphasis on the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables on the plate.
Certain foods can worsen the effects of arthritis by causing inflammation or causing other health problems that could impact your symptoms.
If you have arthritis, the following are some examples of foods that you should eat in small quantities or even avoid altogether:
Foods that can worsen the effects of arthritis can differ from person to person. Some people, for example, might be sensitive to dairy products, while others won’t notice any difference after consuming them. Try to pay attention to your symptoms and what you are eating to determine which foods may be having adverse effects on your health.
The Arthritis Society has developed a Food and Mood Tracker to help you determine how your lifestyle affects your well-being and symptoms.
A recognized nutrition expert will be very useful in establishing and maintaining good eating habits. Actually, different factors could be taken into account in the development of a nutritional plan adapted to your needs; this is why it is important to have the support of a specialist who is a registered member of the College of Dietitians of Ontario.
By combining a healthy, balanced diet with medication, physical activity and other treatments prescribed by your doctor, you can live better with arthritis.
Training module Eating well, Arthritis Society
Your good food guide, Arthritis Society
12 best foods for arthritis, Arthritis Foundation
8 Foods and Beverages to Avoid with Arthritis, Healthline
Article updated December 8, 2020.