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Arthritis and Diet: Eating Your Way Out Of Inflammation

A healthy diet can provide many benefits. A balanced diet provides the right amount of vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants to support good health while helping to reduce the risk of chronic diseases. An anti-inflammatory diet has been shown to provide some benefits to those suffering from some forms of arthritis. The Mediterranean diet is one diet which provides an abundance of anti-inflammatory nutrients.

What is the Mediterranean Diet?

The Mediterranean diet emphasises healthy foods such as vegetables, fruits, fish, whole grains, olive oil, nuts and legumes. Research shows that populations who consume a traditional Mediterranean diet have lower risks of many chronic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Eating to Reduce Inflammation

There isn’t a specific diet that is recommended for people with arthritis, however studies have shown that certain foods can help to control inflammation. People who suffer from inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis may benefit from a diet high in anti-inflammatory foods such as omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 and many other anti-inflammatory foods are commonly found in the Mediterranean diet.

Fruits and vegetables: Antioxidants help to support your immune system, which in turn can help to reduce inflammation. Fruits and vegetables are a rich source of antioxidants and make up a major component of the Mediterranean diet. Some of the best sources of antioxidants include brightly coloured foods such as strawberries, blueberries, spinach, cherries, broccoli and kale.

Fish: Many types of fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 helps to reduce two proteins which cause inflammation—C-reactive protein and interleukin-6. Some of the best sources of omega-3 include salmon, sardines, tuna and some other cold-water fish.

Olive oil: Olive oil contains many compounds which can reduce inflammation, such as antioxidants, monounsaturated fat, and oleocanthal which is a phenolic compound found in extra virgin olive oil known to reduce pain and inflammation.

Nuts and seeds: Monounsaturated fat is another inflammatory fighting component of the Mediterranean diet. Nuts are packed with good sources of monounsaturated fat along with other health promoting nutrients such as fibre and protein. The best sources of monounsaturated fats from nuts include, pistachios, walnuts, almonds and pine nuts.

There is no right or wrong way to follow a Mediterranean diet, however by following the basics you can incorporate a Mediterranean style eating pattern into most healthy diets:

  • Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, fish and olive oil.
  • Consume moderate amounts of eggs, cheese, yogurt and poultry.
  • Consume red meat rarely.
  • Avoid added sugar, processed meats, refined grains and oils, sugary beverages and other highly processed foods.

Arthritis Treatment

While a healthy diet is a great way to prevent or reduce inflammation, other forms of treatment are often necessary for many types of arthritis. Physio for arthritis is a very effective way to manage the symptoms of this condition, and along with a healthy diet, this can maximise your results. Physiotherapy for arthritis may involve strengthening exercises, pain management, dry needling, manual techniques and more, depending on your condition.

For wear and tear conditions, such as knee arthritis, a healthy diet can benefit arthritis knee treatment through maintaining a healthy weight, or supporting weight loss where needed. Being overweight can aggravate arthritis symptoms and increase damage to the joints.

A healthy diet can also provide many benefits not only in alleviating your arthritis symptoms, but also in improving your overall health; while complementing your current physio treatment.

Director & Senior Physiotherapist at Integrity Physiotherapy, Leslie Trigg, has over 13 years of experience in clinical practice. He has graduated with a degree in Human Biology (Anatomy and Physiology) from Curtin University in 2001 and later completed a Masters of Physiotherapy in 2007. He has tremendous experience in musculoskeletal, orthopaedic, neurosurgical and sports physiotherapy. In his spare time, he enjoys swimming, listening to music and spending time with his family.