Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in a joint. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the two most common types of arthritis. Both forms of arthritis can cause painful swelling and stiffness in the joints. The main difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis is the cause behind the joint symptoms.
Osteoarthritis is caused by mechanical wear and tear on joints, whereas rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s own immune system attacks the body’s joints.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for arthritis but you can alleviate the symptoms by making healthy lifestyle decisions.
It’s very important to eat a healthy, balanced diet if you have arthritis, for example.
According to the NHS, eating healthily will give you all the nutrients you need and help you maintain a healthy weight – factors that can provide relief.
There are some important considerations when stocking up your cupboards, however.
Some generally healthy dietary decisions can actually amplify arthritis symptoms, according to Caroline Peyton, a nutritional therapist at Peyton Principles.
Sardines and Mackerel, for example, contain high levels of purines, she explained.
Purines are a type of chemical compound found in foods and drinks that are part of a normal diet.
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According to Peyton, uric acid is created from purines in food.
“In the body if uric acid levels are raised it can result in crystals forming in joints,” she explained.
This is mostly associated with gout and the big toe, but it can affect any joint and it can aggravate existing arthritic joints, research shows.
What does Peyton advise instead?
“If you eat these foods regularly and your joints are troublesome, try eliminating them from your diet and eating salmon instead.”
If you just can’t stomach salmon, you might want to consider a fish-oil supplement.
Yet you may not get the same omega-3 benefits in a bottle, says the arthritis Foundation (AF).
AF explains: “Although fish-oil supplements contain higher levels of EPA and DHA than you’d get from eating fish, that doesn’t mean your body will use those omega-3s as effectively.”
In fact, some studies suggest our bodies don’t absorb omega-3 fatty acids as well from supplements as from fish.
Other key lifestyle tips
If your arthritis is painful, you may not feel like exercising, but being active can help reduce and prevent pain.
As the NHS explains, regular exercise can:
- Improve your range of movement and joint mobility
- Increase muscle strength
- Reduce stiffness
- Boost your energy
“As long as you do the right type and level of exercise for your condition, your arthritis won’t get any worse,” notes the health body.
It adds: “Combined with a healthy, balanced diet, regular exercise will help you lose weight and place less strain on your joints.”
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