Hippocrates already appreciated the role of eating as a medicine. This Greek physician, called the father of medicine, could see that food can improve health and prevent illness. Unfortunately, the modern ones generally forget about it – we eat it as quickly as possible and in a hurry without much reflection on the nutritional values of the meal. Meanwhile, rational nutrition allows to keep the body in good condition, and also protects against serious diseases of the civilization, such as: atherosclerosis, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, allergy, auto-aggressive diseases or even cancer. As research shows, food also affects arthritis – the diet helps reduce inflammation and, as a consequence, alleviate typical rheumatic symptoms. On the other hand, there are pro-inflammatory products that definitely do not serve rheumatism. What to eat and what to avoid when sick joints?
On the basis of around eighty years of research, doctors managed to determine how the nutrition plan is indicated for chronic arthritis (rheumatism). As it turns out, the sick can help … weekly fasting carried out under the windows of a dietitian or doctor. During fasting, one should mainly consume vegetables (carrot, beetroot, celery and even potatoes), herbal infusions and natural spices (garlic, parsley). A fasting can have a beneficial effect on arthritis – a diet limited to the necessary minimum calms down rheumatic complaints and reduces the concentration of inflammatory markers (ESR, CRP protein) in the blood.
It also helps in vegitating the pain and stiffness of the joints vegan way of eating, ie deprived of meat and animal products (eg eggs, cheese, butter, meat broth). A menu consisting solely of vegetables, fruits, herbs and grains reduces the level of substances stimulating the immune system, including leukotrienes and cytokines. Meanwhile, many rheumatic diseases result from hyperactivity of the immune system, which initiates inflammatory processes and leads to the destruction of healthy tissues forming joints. Silencing the immune system is achieved by the use of appropriate drugs for arthritis – a vegan diet can naturally support this process.
People with rheumatism who do not want to give up animal products should take into account the Mediterranean diet. It is a traditional way of feeding Italians, Greeks and Spaniards, which is dominated by unprocessed local products, fish, seafood, olive oil, vegetables and fruits, aromatic herbs. The main components of the Mediterranean diet abound with essential fatty acids, which are building blocks of cells and protect against diseases. It is particularly important to take products rich in omega-3 acids that counteract inflammation. The diet with arthritis should also contain products rich in antioxidants, i.e. substances that fight free radicals responsible for cell damage. Meanwhile, the Mediterranean diet recommends drinking moderate amounts of red wine, which medicine appreciates for its strong antioxidant properties.
The elimination diet may have different faces, but the main assumption is simple – you should exclude foods and ingredients that harm the body from the menu. In patients with arthritis, the diet should not contain allergens and foods responsible for food intolerances (dairy products, wheat products containing gluten). Why? Well, the body treats these ingredients as potentially dangerous – the immune system tries to fight them, which leads to the formation of inflammatory processes. After reaching the intestine, allergens increase the immune system response and thereby increase the symptoms of arthritis. An elimination diet can thus prevent unnecessary stimulation of macrophages and other cells responsible for inflammation.
We already know what diet for arthritis is indicated – now let’s focus on products not recommended for rheumatism. First of all, it is necessary to eliminate highly processed food from the menu, which contains harmful trans fats with pro-inflammatory effect. This means giving up sweets, crisps, fast food, ready-made meals, some spices (broth cubes), powdered sauces, and wafers. It should also reduce red meat (especially fried and grilled), and avoid alcohol and sugar. Due to the possibility of stimulating inflammation, it is worth limiting products responsible for food intolerances, i.e. dairy products and white flour products. It is also advisable to perform allergy tests and on their basis exclude potentially harmful ingredients.