Recommended foods and nutrition to control osteoarthritis

A change in diet and lifestyle can help people with osteoarthritis. The Mediterranean-type diet helps increase mobility and relieve pain and inflammation.

Last update: December 23, 2021

Diet plays a key role in the management of many diseases. And at other times it is very useful to improve the quality of life of patients. For this reason, it is interesting to take into account the food and nutrition recommended in osteoarthritis.

The relationship between diet and joints is not as clear as in the case of diabetes or cardiovascular disease. However, some studies show that an eating pattern with abundant red meat, processed and fried foods is related to a worse progression of the disease.

Choosing the right foods can improve the state of cartilage, the repair of joint injuries and the inflammatory state that it entails. So when you have osteoarthritis, it is important to consider what to eat and what not to eat.

How do food and nutrition influence osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is an affection of the joints as a consequence of the wear and tear and degradation of cartilage. The most damaged areas are usually the knees and hips, although it is also common in the hands, spine or toes.

Patients suffer from swelling, pain, and mobility problems that can seriously affect their quality of life. At the origin of the disease are genetic factors, metabolic disorders, injuries or joint instability. It is a health problem with more prevalence among older adults.

At the core of osteoarthritis treatment is medication to control symptoms and replace affected joints (as a last measure). And although it is not possible to speak of a curative diet, some strategies can be useful for a better management of the pathology.

As indicated by the experts of the Arthritis FoundationCertain foods can strengthen bones, reduce inflammation, and boost the immune system. In this way, joint damage can be slowed down, some tissues repaired, or pain reduced.

Food and nutrition recommended in osteoarthitis

The main objectives of the diet are to maintain an adequate body weight, control inflammation, and strengthen joint tissues as much as possible. To achieve these purposes, these are some of the guidelines to follow.

Eat plenty of colorful vegetables and fruits

Throughout the day these products can be eaten freely. They mean a very interesting contribution of antioxidants that prevent cell damage and protect joints. In addition, they also help reduce inflammation and pain.

Colorful vegetables indicate a high presence of antioxidants, which may slow joint damage.

Olive oil is key

This should be the preferred option for cooking and dressing all kinds of dishes. For this specific ingredient, there are studies that relate it to a preventive effect on cartilage damage.

Introduce blue fish 1 or 2 days a week

All varieties of oily fish contain omega 3 fatty acids. These types of polyunsaturated lipids have a proven anti-inflammatory effect. In patients with osteoarthritis, they could improve joint stiffness and pain.

Some animal research shows positive results from adding this type of fat to the diet. Omega 3 would slow down the progression of damage and even prevent its possible appearance. Positive results are also seen with flax oil.

Get enough vitamin C and vitamin D

Both vitamins play an important role in osteoarticular health. Vitamin C is necessary for the synthesis of collagen and connective tissue. And vitamin D is essential for muscle strength and balance.

The best sources of vitamin C are found in pineapple, oranges, strawberries, kiwi, broccoli, and red bell peppers. On the other hand, vitamin D is abundant in fish oil, egg yolks, oily fish, and milk.

Cooking with leeks and onions

An interesting amount of quercetin is concentrated in these two foods, a compound that exhibits anti-inflammatory activity. Although more evidence is needed in this regard, it seems to be a good idea to include these foods in daily recipes. In addition, it is also found in apples, berries, grapes, capers or vegetables of the family Brasicacae.

Control portions

Osteoarthritis patients can have severely impaired mobility. So it is necessary not to exceed the energy intake in order to avoid a caloric surplus (which can translate into weight gain).

What foods to avoid in the diet for osteoarthritis?

People with this disease are in an inflammatory state. For this reason, in the diet and nutrition recommended for osteoarthritis, it is necessary to avoid all those products that can promote this state.

The lack of physical activity and the consumption of Western-type and hypercaloric diets seem to be related to a chronic inflammatory state of the organism. On the list of least recommended foods are the following.

Added sugars

Sugars are found in a large number of processed products: sweets, chocolates, pastries, commercial sauces, desserts. This excess sugar is related both to being overweight and to a state of inflammation.

Excess lipids, saturated fat, and fat trans

Both the amount and type of fat affect inflammation and can worsen the progress of the disease. For this reason, it is advisable to avoid excessive consumption of butter, processed meat, margarine, fast food or pre-cooked dishes.

Refined grains

During the refining process, cereal grains are devoid of fiber and other important parts. Thus, white grains and all their derivatives lose their nutritional value.

Dairy products

In this case there is no scientific evidence on the advisability of withdrawing products such as milk, yogurt or cheese. While it is true that some dairy products can contain high amounts of saturated fat or added sugar that should be limited.

The role of dairy in chronic inflammation of the joints is not clear, so it is necessary to evaluate in each person if they really should be removed from the diet.

When is it necessary to see a professional?

Getting started with the proper food and nutrition for osteoarthritis can be easier or more difficult. It all depends on the state of health of each person and how is their diet before starting.

Sometimes, it may be appropriate to go step by step. Instead, other people prefer to adopt more radical changes all at once. Be that as it may, everyone must find the method.

For all those people who may find the process difficult, it is highly recommended to consult a dietitian or doctor. They will provide the relevant help and information.

In the same way, do not forget the importance of physical activity in improving the disease. Some exercises are more advisable than others, so it is also a good time to seek professional advice.

Recommended foods for osteoarthritis can improve some symptoms

Osteoarthritis is a health problem that seriously affects the daily lives of people who suffer from it. Its treatment is pharmacological, but there are simple habits that accompany it and allow the symptoms to be improved. Exercise, a proper diet or a relaxed state of mind are some of the basic premises.

An eating pattern similar to the Mediterranean diet is undoubtedly one of the most appropriate. In this, the protagonists are fruits, vegetables, legumes, olive oil, nuts, whole grains, oily fish, eggs and lean meats.

What’s more, other conditions such as being overweight, hyperglycemia and high cholesterol need to be controlled. If you have any doubts about the most appropriate diet or physical activity, it is advisable to seek professional help.

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