Your diet can play a role in your chances of developing arthritis

While it’s true that there is no way to absolutely ensure that you never develop any type of arthritis, there are things you can do to lessen your risk as well as things you can do manage your symptoms if you are diagnosed with arthritis.  Arthritis is typically characterized by joint swelling, pain, and stiffness as well as a decrease in the range of motion (ROM) of affected joints.  


Rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis are both types of inflammatory arthritis.  With inflammatory arthritis, the immune system attacks the joints, causing inflammation and sometimes joint erosion.  Doctors believe that inflammatory arthritis is largely due to a combination of environmental factors and genetics.  One way to decrease your chances of developing rheumatoid arthritis is to include at least one serving of fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids in your weekly diet.  Salmon, cod, mackerel, trout, and kippers are good examples of such fish.  Eating leaner (less-omega-3-rich) fish such as cod, canned tuna, or haddock four or more times a week can provide the same benefits as just one serving of a fattier fish.  It’s been observed through various studies that individuals who followed such a diet for at least ten years were only about half as likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis (RA) as those who did not.  Those who’ve already been diagnosed with RA or psoriatic arthritis can find significant symptom relief by adopting a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, whether through fish (the ideal) or supplements.


An overall healthy, well-balanced diet can help all individuals lessen their chances of developing arthritis as well as many other chronic diseases.  A body that gets proper nutrition (and regular exercise, of course) is more able to make repairs at the cellular level that can help to keep tissues, organs, muscles, bones, and joints in better shape.  If the body doesn’t get the nutrients it needs, it might have to choose, in essence, which systems get priority.  If our diets aren’t even close to healthy and well-balanced, we don’t give our bodies much choice in the matter and are likely to develop different problems across different systems.


If you have been diagnosed with arthritis or any other disease that causes painful or motion-limiting inflammation, there are some foods you can add to your diet that will help manage the inflammation.  In addition to foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, foods like pineapple, celery, beets, leafy greens, and blueberries are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, as are herbs and spices like turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, garlic, cayenne and black pepper, and cloves.  Finding ways to include one or more of these natural anti-inflammatories in your daily diet can decrease the inflammation that comes from most types of arthritis.


A healthy diet and regular exercise can also help to stave off arthritis for some and manage symptoms for others by helping to keep our muscles, joints, and immune systems stronger.  Stronger muscles and joints are better able to withstand the ravages of time and arthritis that tends to come with age (like degenerative versions).  A stronger immune system can be key to fending off or managing RA and psoriatic arthritis.


In short, avoiding or managing various types of arthritis is one more on a long list of reasons to make the effort to eat better and move more!