The Arthritis Diet: Common Food Myths and Dietary Recommendations

Although dietary changes cannot serve as a substitute for medical treatment for the various types of arthritis, they may help you manage your condition and enjoy better health. Whether you have osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, or another diagnosis, you might consider talking to your rheumatologist about making changes to your typical diet plan.

Common Arthritis-Related Food Myths

It’s always best to defer to your doctor’s recommendations, since there are a few persistent myths about there about arthritis diets. Here, we’ll debunk some of those myths before diving into the evidence-based dietary recommendations for patients with arthritis and autoimmune diseases.

The Apple Cider Vinegar Myth

One persistent myth about arthritis is that drinking apple cider vinegar will help reduce pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis. Actually, there is no evidence to support this claim.

The Red Wine Myth

It’s thought that red wine can help fight inflammation because it contains the anti-inflammatory component resveratrol. Although resveratrol can indeed help fight inflammation, that doesn’t mean you should increase your consumption of red wine. Any excessive consumption of alcohol—red wine or otherwise—can trigger the production of the inflammatory proteins known as cytokines. If you wish to drink, experts recommend keeping your upper limit at one drink daily if you’re female or two drinks daily if you’re male.

The Gin-Soaked Raisins Myth

You may have heard some people recommend that you try eating gin-soaked raisins to relieve the pain of rheumatoid arthritis. This myth stems from the fact that raisins are often processed with sulfur dioxide and gin is made from juniper berries. However, evidence doesn’t support this claim.

The Raw Foods Myth

Yet another myth about foods and arthritis is that consuming vegetables and other plant-based foods raw will provide relief from arthritis symptoms. It’s definitely a good idea to increase your intake of vegetables, fruits, and other plant-based foods; however, there is no evidence to suggest that a raw food diet will ease symptoms. If you do prefer to consume vegetables raw, it’s best to gradually increase your intake to avoid gastrointestinal effects.

Evidence-Based Arthritis Diet Recommendations

Now that we’ve cleared up some of the persistent myths about dietary changes for arthritis, let’s take a look at the evidence-based recommendations that really can help you manage your condition and enjoy better overall wellness.

Follow the Anti-Inflammatory Arthritis Diet

Autoimmune diseases and the various types of arthritis are associated with chronic, systemic inflammation in the body. When the immune system identifies a substance (i.e. germ, chemical, or other substance) as being a foreign invader to the body, this can trigger inflammation. Acute inflammation isn’t necessarily a concern; however, inflammation that persists over a long period of time can be detrimental to one’s health.

Certain components of various foods have anti-inflammatory properties that can help fight chronic inflammation. Conversely, other types of foods can contribute to inflammation. Your rheumatologist may recommend that you try to limit or avoid inflammatory foods, while increasing the amount of anti-inflammatory foods you eat.

Limit or Avoid These Foods

The foods that commonly cause inflammation in the body include:

  • Fried foods such as French fries and fried chicken
  • Beverages sweetened with sugar, such as soda and juice
  • All types of red meats, as well as processed meats, such as hot dogs, pepperoni, and sausage
  • Refined carbohydrates, including white bread, pastries, and pastas
  • Lard, shortening, and margarine

Eat More of These Foods

One easy way to eat anti-inflammatory foods that are good for people with various types of arthritis is to follow the Mediterranean Diet. The Mediterranean Diet predominantly consists of plant-based foods, healthy fats, and lean proteins such as fish. It emphasizes vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds, and olive oil.

Arthritis-friendly foods to incorporate into your meal plan include:

  • Fruits and vegetables – These foods contain antioxidants that fight chronic inflammation. Choose lots of green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, as well as cherries, strawberries, tomatoes, blueberries, and other brightly colored produce.
  • Whole grains – Instead of eating refined carbohydrates, choose whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, and whole wheat. Evidence suggests that eating whole grains instead of refined carbohydrates can help lower C-reactive protein—a marker of inflammation in the body.
  • Beans – Similar to whole grains, beans can help lower C-reactive protein. They’re also an excellent source of lean protein and healthy fiber.
  • Nuts and seeds – Nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseed also help fight inflammation.
  • Fish and oils – Choose oily fish like salmon, herring, trout, sardines, and cod. Use extra virgin olive oil in salads and for cooking.

Comprehensive Treatment for All Types of Arthritis

At Empowered Arthritis and Rheumatology in Cary, NC, we provide compassionate treatment for autoimmune diseases and all types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis. You can access innovative, cutting-edge treatments within our comfortable clinic, and receive in-depth, personalized patient education designed to help you take charge of your health. Contact us today in Wake County to schedule an appointment

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