Arthritis is a disease which affects the joints of the body. There is more than 100 types arthritis, with more than 350 million people affected worldwide, including approximately four million Australians.
Arthritis causes pain and disability and generally reduces quality of life. In Australia in 2015, approximately 54,000 people aged 45 to 64 could not work due to severe arthritis. Their median income was only a quarter of the income of full-time workers who did not have arthritis.
It’s no surprise, then, that some people want to try different diets, supplements, or therapies to see if they ease symptoms or help them gain traction. Sense of control about their condition.
However, a major exam found specific dietary supplements or components were unlikely to lead to important improvements in arthritis outcomes such as stiffness, pain and function.
The main nutritional recommendation was to adopt healthy eating habits.
Remind me, what causes arthritis? And what are the symptoms?
Risk factors to develop arthritis include those you cannot control – such as genetics, gender and age – and some you can control, such as smoking, repetitive injury, body weight, occupation and some infections.
Types of arthritis include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, juvenile arthritis, gout, systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus), and scleroderma.
Common symptoms include:
- stiffness or reduced joint movement
- swelling, redness and warmth in the joints.
Less specific symptoms include fatigue, weight loss, or feeling ill.
So what does the evidence say about supplements?
The European Alliance of Rheumatology Associationsthe European Arthritis Expert Group, recently published a detailed review on diet and use of supplements in arthritis. It synthesized the results of 24 systematic reviews of existing research as well as 150 additional studies, covering over 80 different dietary components and supplements.
The alliance identified that there were limited studies on each individual product, with the majority of studies being of low quality. This means that for most supplements, they could not make recommendations on whether or not to use them.
However, for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, although most studies were of low or moderate quality, a few supplements had positive effects.
What does all this mean?
Current research indicates that specific foods, supplements, or dietary components are unlikely to affect arthritis outcomes to any great degree.
So how do you improve your health and well-being? Here are four key things to consider:
1. Have a healthy and varied diet
Eating food – rather than taking supplements – means you get the other nutrients in food, including healthy sources of fats, protein, dietary fiber and a range of essential vitamins and minerals to maintain a healthy body. healthy.
This is why the recommendation for arthritis sufferers is to eat a healthy diet, as vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains contain a range of phytonutrients needed to help alleviate oxidative stress triggered by arthritis. inflammatory processes associated with arthritis.
A healthy diet includes foods high in omega-3 fatty acids such as fatty fish (salmon, tuna, sardines), chia seeds, flaxseed oil, walnuts, canola oil, and vitamin D ( eggs, fish, and milk or margarine fortified with vitamin D). And do not forget Sun exposurewhich allows the body to produce vitamin D.
2. Avoid alcohol
Alcohol consumption should be discussed with your doctor as it may interact with other treatments.
Small amounts of alcohol are unlikely to have any negative effects on arthritis, unless you have other health conditions such as liver disease or if you are taking certain medications such as methotrexate Where leflunomide.
For rheumatoid arthritis, moderate alcohol consumption may increase the risk of arthritis flare-ups.
Alcohol can also increase the risk of gout flares.
3. Aim for a healthy weight
Aim for a healthy weight can help arthritis by reducing the load on affected joints such as the hips and knees, and by increasing your intake of healthy foods rich in phytonutrients.
Ask your doctor for help with intentional, well-managed weight loss if you are overweight. You may need to be referred to a registered dietitian for personalized medical nutrition therapy or to a physical therapist or exercise physiologist for specific help to improve mobility and physical activity.
4. Be careful with supplements
If you decide to try specific complementary therapies or dietary supplements, discuss potential side effects or interactions with your regular medications with your doctor and pharmacist.
Try the products for a few months (or however long a container lasts) so you can monitor side effects in relation to your sense of well-being, reduction in painkiller use, and cost. If you’re not getting any benefits, spend that money on healthier foods instead.
Find out how healthy your diet is by taking our Healthy Eating Quiz.