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Nutrition for Inflammation and Arthritis. 

 March 18, 2024

By  Linda Rook

left knee inflamed and painful.

Introduction.

When you live with rheumatoid arthritis or RA, it can have many challenges that can have a big impact on your daily life.  The symptoms could be debilitating joint pain, stiffness, and inflammation, and you may feel tired all the time also you could have reduced mobility.

As there is no cure for arthritis, there are a variety of treatments available that can help you manage each day and help with your quality of life. Some options could be a well-balanced nutritional diet.

In this blog, I shall also explain what is rheumatoid arthritis, the symptoms, and the exact cause of RA.

An explanation of the different foods that can affect your inflammation and immune function, by including anti-inflammatory foods and supplements in your meals.

Also, I shall explain the factors of exercising, stress management, and adequate sleep.

But first, what is rheumatoid arthritis?

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

When you develop rheumatoid arthritis or RA, it is an autoimmune disease that mainly affects the joints, but you could also damage your organs. It is a progressive disease which means that it worsens over a long period, if not managed properly. 

Rheumatoid arthritis is found to have inflammation of the lining of the joints, called the synovium. The inflammation leads to your joints being painful, swelling, and stiffness, you could also end up with deformity in the joints if it goes untreated.

When you have a healthy body the immune system’s job is to defend your body from bacteria and viruses. But with RA your immune cells, especially T and B cells, start to become overactive, which means that they start producing inflammatory cytokines, which leads to chronic inflammation and joint deformity.

Symptoms.

The following list are symptoms that you could develop with rheumatoid arthritis, they include.

•     Joint pain, tenderness, swelling.

•     Morning stiffness lasting for hours.

•     Fatigue.

•     and a general feeling of unwell.

Fatigue

The most common joints that become affected could be your hands, wrists, feet, ankles, and knees. However, the disease can also affect your skin, eyes, lungs, and heart, which can lead to complications.

The complications like bone nodules, eye inflammation, lung disease, and cardiovascular problems.

Risk Factor.


With everything, there are risk factors, and with RA the factors include.

genetics
  • Genetics: if your family has a history of RA you may be at a high risk of developing RA.
  • Environmental triggers: The environmental factors could be if you smoke, you should stop immediately, also any infections and exposure to some chemicals.
  • and hormonal imbalances:

Diagnosis and Treatment.

When you are diagnosed with RA your doctor may ask you for your medical history, and a physical examination.  They will also send you for a blood test, or imaging test such as an x-ray or an MRI scan.

You must get an early diagnosis so that the medical team can treat you early to prevent any joint damage and joint function. 

You could be given a combination of medications, you may be prescribed NSAIDs or DMARDs, biological agents.  Apart from the medication, for a better lifestyle, you should include a proper nutrition diet, regular exercises, and enough rest, which are all vital for managing the symptoms and helping you to improve your overall well-being.

Nutrition Foods When You Have Arthritis.

Whilst there is no special diet for curing arthritis. By making a healthy dietary choice, you can help reduce the pain and inflammation.  Certain foods come under ‘anti-inflammatory’ foods that include:

Nuts and Seeds - walnuts etc.
  • Oily fish – salmon, mackerel.
  • Nuts and seeds – flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts,
  • olive oil.
  • Fruit – all berries.
  • Vegetables – sweet potatoes, all greens,
  • Whole grain – that contains nutrients.
  • These foods are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and phytochemicals, that all have anti-inflammatory properties in them, therefore good for RA and any other types of arthritis.

    Inflammation.

    For support of your immune system, some supplements can help, they are nutrients like:

    Vitamin C and D, zinc, selenium, and probiotics, help to regulate and strengthen your immune system.

    But always consult with a medical professional when starting anything new, such as supplements or exercises.

    Inflammation of the finger joints.

    Joint Health.

    Other nutrient foods help with your joints, the following foods can help with collagen and protein, which are found in bones, tendons, and cartilages. 

    These foods are rich in collagen and include:

    Bone broth, Fish and Chicken skin.

    Also, vitamin K, manganese, and sulphur, these foods can be found in cruciferous vegetables, garlic, and onion.

    Gut Health.

    There is a gut bacterium that is associated with autoimmune conditions such as RA. Eating rich fibre, prebiotics such as garlic, onions, and bananas, and probiotics such as yoghurt, kefir, or sauerkraut, can help with a healthy gut and reduce inflammation.

    Upset Stomach from Medication.

    Foods to avoid.

    Whilst having an anti-inflammatory diet, that helps with your symptoms, you should likewise be mindful of foods that can worsen the symptoms, such as inflammatory foods. Research has found that certain foods have been linked to increased inflammation.

    The inflammation foods include:

    •     Processed foods – these could be packed snacks, frozen meals, and pre-packed convenience foods.

    •     Refined carbohydrates – which are bread, white rice, pasta and pastries, sugary snacks, and drinks, such as soda, candy, and desserts.

    •     Saturated and trans fats – this group are found in animal products such as red meat, and full-fat dairy products.

    •     Nightshade vegetables – these include tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and potatoes, all contain a compound called alkaloids.

    •     Additives and preservatives – such as artificial colouring, flavouring, or preservatives all have sodium and Sulphites that contribute to inflammation.

         Gluten – some people may be gluten-sensitive, such as myself, I have osteoarthritis and found that gluten-free foods have helped my symptoms. I now have everything gluten-free.

    •     Alcohol – if you have excessive alcohol your inflammation can increase, such as joint pain, swelling and fatigue. You should drink alcohol in moderation and choose a healthier choice like red wine, which has antioxidants that help with inflammation.

    Exercises When You Have Arthritis.

    I know you are already in pain with your joints, but it is important to keep your joints moving and exercise, each day so that you do not get too stiff and cannot move. Regular exercise can help to improve flexibility, strength, and function, and reduce inflammation.  

    The following are some exercises and movements that you can incorporate into your routine they include:

    A man on an exercise bike in a gym.

    1.    Before you start doing any exercise program you should consult with your healthcare provider, such as your physical therapist or an arthritis specialist.  They can ensure you of the safest and proper way, they will be able to give you a personalized program.

    2.    It would be best to choose low-impact exercises, these are gentle on the joints and reduce stress and strain. These can include swimming, cycling, water aerobics, tai chi or yoga.

    3.    Always start slowly and progress gradually, increasing the duration, and frequency.  Listen to your body and pace yourself.  If you have pain or discomfort you should scale back the intensity and duration.

    4.    Muscle exercise is also important especially if you have RA, it maintains your muscle mass, supports joint stability, and helps reduce the risk of falling.  The exercises include your arms, legs, back and core, by doing light weights or resistance.

    Physio, Balancing Ball
    Elderly Gent with walking stick

    5.    Keeping active throughout the day, by short walks, stretching or gentle exercises, and breaking up long periods of sitting and standing, will reduce joint stiffness and improve your circulation. 

    6.    Keep track of the exercise routine and jot down the type of exercise, duration, and how your body coped.  This way you can adjust your program as needed.


    By keeping active and doing regular exercises, you can reduce joint flexibility, strength, and functions, reducing inflammation and alleviating pain.  But always consult with your health care provider before starting any new exercise, listen to your body and adjust your exercises if needed.

    Stress Management Methods.

    If you develop any type of arthritis, you may have stress, this stress can worsen the inflammation, trigger flare-ups, and increase the pain, and fatigue.

    Combining stress management into your daily life can help with your stress levels and help with relaxing and increasing your well-being.  Some stress techniques could be as follows:

    1.    Deep breathing exercises.

    2.    Mindfulness meditation.

    3.    Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR)

    4.    Yoga and tai chi.

    5.    Guided imagery.

    6.    Keep a journal.

    7.    Social support.

    8.    Seek professional support.

    Relaxing Yoga

    It is important to seek professional help when you live with arthritis, to ensure that you are getting the complete management of your condition and address any aspects of physical, emotional and mental health.

    The professional help could be your rheumatology if you have RA, physical therapy, nutrition and mental health, they can all give you valued support.

    Physio with a resistant band.

    1.    A rheumatologist can help you with your medication, diagnosis and treatment for rheumatic diseases including RA.

    2.    A physical therapist is a healthcare professional who specializes in treating musculoskeletal conditions and improving joint movement.

    3.    An occupational therapist is a healthcare professional who specializes in maintaining independence and function daily.  They can help you with joint pain, and fatigue, adapting your tasks to reduce strain on your joints.

    4.    A registered dietitian helps you with your nutrition and your overall health.  They can help you with reducing inflammation, your immune system, and your weight.

    5.    Mental health professional, when you live with a disease such as arthritis it can take a toll on your emotional and mental well-being, which can lead to stress, anxiety, depression and much more.  A mental health professional could be a counsellor, therapist or psychologist who can help with emotional health.

    6.    And finally, you should go to a support group, joining a support group with people who are experiencing the same as yourself.  These support groups offer opportunities to share experiences, exchange information, learn coping strategies etc…

    anxiety sign

    Conclusion.

    Living with arthritis can be challenging, such as physical, emotional, and mental health issues.  By including nutrition, lifestyle changes, exercises, stress management techniques and professional guidance, you can successfully manage your condition by, reducing inflammation and easing symptoms, and therefore helping your overall well-being.

    I am not a medical professional and this article is for information only. If you have any comments or have a query about arthritis, just go to my comment page and leave a message and I shall get back to you.

    Do not forget to click on the button below for more information on Nutritious food and exercises when you have arthritis.

    I hope this article has helped you and good luck.

    More Information.

    https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/healthy-living/nutrition/anti-inflammatory/the-ultimate-arthritis-diet

    https://www.arthritis-health.com/treatment/diet-and-nutrition/anti-inflammatory-diet-arthritis

    https://versusarthritis.org/about-arthritis/exercising-with-arthritis/

    Linda Rook

    Linda is now retired and has suffered from Osteoarthritis for about 40+ years.  She struggled with her weight until she found the correct one that also helped with her arthritic pain.  Linda was in terrible pain until the physician thought her right hip needed replacement. 


    Now Linda has an artificial right hip, which has left her with the left leg shorter than the right.  Therefore, her spine is now wonky, and has arthritis of the lower back, also it seems to be going all over the body, her pain is now in the knees, elbow, wrist, fingers and both hips.


    Linda now spends her days writing information to help others with the same conditions, so they do not suffer like Linda.


    related posts:


    What Supplements Are Good For Arthritis?


    Coping With Pregnancy and Chronic Illness.


    Foods to Avoid When Taking Medication.

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