One of the most common ailments is arthritis, which encompasses a wide array of conditions that manifest as joint pain and inflammation. These can include rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and psoriatic arthritis. While there is no single diet to prescribe, it has been shown that certain foods can either increase or decrease inflammation.
What’s Bad for You & Why
Fried and processed foods, commonly regarded as “bad” for you for a host of nutritional reasons, are detrimental to your body’s natural defenses. Similarly, when foods are heated, grilled, or pasteurized, they generate a toxin—known as an advanced glycation end product, or AGE—that can damage certain proteins in your body.
It’s also advisable to limit consumption of sugars—specifically, fructose, sucrose, and those found in desserts, fruit juices, and soda—and refined carbohydrates, which include white flour baked goods, white rice, mashed potatoes, and many cereals. Dairy products, as well, can contribute to joint pain due to the type of protein they contain.
Saturated fats—like those found in pizza, cheese, red meat, full-fat dairy, pasta, and grain-based desserts—and trans fats—common in fast foods, fried products, processed snack foods, prepared meals, and packaged frozen breakfasts—are extremely damaging to the body and can trigger inflammation due to their heavy quantity of salt and preservatives, as can MSG, used in Asian food, soy sauce, prepared soups and deli meats.
So, what’s left to eat, you may ask? Healthy proteins can be sourced from plant-based foods and whole grains, such as vegetables, nut butters, tofu, beans, lentils, and quinoa. Monounsaturated fats—avocados are a prime example—are a great source of vitamin E. Olives and extra virgin olive oil, as well, can act as natural anti-inflammatory agents.
Low-fat dairy milk, cheese, and yogurt can help strengthen bones and add back vitamin D, contrary to their full-fat counterparts, which have been proven to do more damage than good. Also of note, berries high in antioxidants—including blueberries, strawberries and raspberries—have been shown to fight inflammation as well.
When opting for a beverage, water is always the preferred choice, as hydration is vital to the body and its ability to process food. Alcohol, by contrast, weakens liver function and disrupts organ interactions, often leading to conditions such as arthritis and gout. Diet sodas, previously thought to be a healthier option, can be just as damaging, due to the inclusion of aspartame, an artificial sweetener.
While each individual is different, and as such, may require a more customized diet plan to help alleviate joint pain and related discomfort, taking proactive steps to adjust your nutritional intake is a great place to start.
For more information, contact the Northport Wellness Center.