More than 7 million adults in the UK (15% of the population) have long-term health problems due to arthritis and related conditions. In the absence of arthritis it is still important to try and keep your joints in good working order with regular exercise and a healthy diet. Keeping to an ideal weight can also help take pressure off your joints.
There is a lot of debate about whether what you eat affects symptoms of arthritis. Some people feel that their symptoms are improved by avoiding certain food such as the nightshade family of vegetables (tomatoes, aubergine, peppers), dairy or wheat. However, you should never omit important food groups without the advice of a nutritional therapist or you may lack important nutrients.
There are also foods that may help reduce pain and inflammation for some people.
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, contained in oily fish, could ease the symptoms of inflammatory arthritis. Essential fatty acids are believed to reduce the process of inflammation and subsequent joint damage. You should try to eat oily fish twice a week or take a supplement. Flax seeds or flax oil are good vegetarian sources.
Eating plenty of vegetables and fruit will provide antioxidants which limit the action of free radicals, which destroy healthy cells, exacerbating damaged at inflamed sites.
Include calcium, magnesium and vitamin D to keep the bones strong. Green leafy vegetables are a good source in addition to low fat dairy sources.
Natural spices such as curcumin (found in turmeric) and ginger may be effective in reducing inflammation and pain. Bromelain from pineapples may also be of help.
You should always consult your GP or a nutritional therapist before making any significant changes to your diet.