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Seven Insider Food Secrets That Help You Beat Arthritis... By An Arthritis Expert

Posted Sep 11 2009 4:57pm

The term “arthritis” is derived from the Greek… “arthron” meaning joint… and “it is” meaning inflammation. Most types of arthritis are associated with inflammation. Inflammation is a defense mechanism the body employs to fight infection, tumors, and other foreign invaders. The mediator of this inflammatory response is the immune system.

Picture an army of warriors – the immune response- which is ready and eager to take on the task of protecting you against enemies. Inflammation is regulated so that under normal circumstances, once the problem is taken care of, inflammation stops. Unfortunately, inflammation can escape this control mechanism and become chronic. Chronic inflammation, it is believed, is the underlying basis for the development of diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease.

So is there a way to manipulate the diet so that arthritis damage caused by inappropriate inflammation can be controlled? Recent research has suggested that diets that contain omega-3 fatty acids that combat inflammation may be useful. Also, the elimination of foods containing omega-6 fatty acids which promote inflammation is also helpful.

Here is a list of seven “insider secrets” that you should know about.

Secret #1: Make cold water fish part of your diet at least two to three times a week. Examples include cold water salmon (not farm raised), sardines, herring, cod, and trout. The reason? These types of fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. If fish is something you don’t enjoy, consider flax seed, walnuts, or dietary fish supplements… all of which also contain significant amounts of omega-3. (Note: If you are a blood thinner, consult your doctor before taking a dietary supplements with omega-3 since your drug dose may need to be adjusted.)

Secret #2: Reduce the amount of certain oils such as corn oil, sunflower oil, and safflower oil. These contain large amounts of omega-6 fatty acids that promote inflammation. Use olive oil or canola oil instead.

Secret # 3: Go for veggies and fruits. Many vegetables and fruits are high in antioxidants that fight inflammation. Berries such as blueberries and cherries are excellent and tasty sources of anti-inflammatory ingredients. Pineapple is a good source of bromelain, an excellent anti-oxidant.

Secret # 4: Avoid the white poisons. Often ingredients like refined sugar, refined flour and salt are used in the production of processed foods such as white bread, sugary cereals, candies, and pastries. These white poisons promote inflammation and should be avoided.

Secret # 5: Reduce the amount of red meat in your diet: Animal protein contains large amounts of pro-inflammatory fatty acids.

Secret #6: Reduce the amount of trans fat in your diet. Trans fats, which are present in fried foods, cakes, pies, cookies, and other baked goods, increase low density cholesterol (LDL). This is the bad cholesterol that is pro-inflammatory.

Secret # 7: Use more spices: Spices such as curcumin, garlic, ginger, contain ingredients which have been shown in some well-controlled studies to reduce the inflammation of arthritis.

Some people have claimed that dairy products and nightshade vegetables such as eggplant, potatoes, and tomatoes, cause their arthritis to get worse. There may be some individual food sensitivities/ allergies that do aggravate arthritis. However, a blanket statement about the role of dairy products and nightshade plants is not warranted. At our center we do suggest the use of food allergy testing in individuals who have arthritic symptoms that are troublesome and appear to be food-induced. For more information about food allergy testing, call us at (301) 694-5800.

Finally, dietary manipulation should not be used as a substitute for proper and aggressive conventional medical care. A rheumatologist should be consulted.

About the Author
Nathan Wei, MD FACP FACR is a rheumatologist and Director of the Arthritis and Osteoporosis Center of Maryland. He is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.For more info: Arthritis Treatment

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