Proper nutrition isn’t just good for overall health; it’s also good for your joints. Most people suffering from arthritis don’t realize that what you eat can either increase or decrease the negative symptoms caused by arthritis. Even if you don’t suffer from the disease, it’s wise to be aware of which foods support healthy joint function and health and those that do not.
All of the following foods have one ailment in common: inflammation. If you are already suffering from the debilitating effects of arthritis, your joints are inflamed enough as it is. Why add more fuel to the fire?
1. Sugar. Studies show that the more added sugar you consume, the more uric acid your body creates. Uric acid causes inflammation and even insulin resistance. The main culprits, refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup, can be found in candy, white bread, soda, breakfast cereals, barbeque sauce, ketchup, some yogurts, ice cream, cookies, and many more high sugar, low-nutrient foods.
Dietary recommendation: For women, 6 teaspoons or 25 grams per day. For men, 9 teaspoons or 38 grams per day.*
2. Trans fats. These Fats have been shown to cause systemic inflammation. Also known as chronic inflammation, it is a factor in musculoskeletal pain. The best way to combat this type of inflammation? Avoid foods with “hydrogenated oils” or “partially hydrogenated oils” in their list of ingredients. These include fried food, margarine, processed cookies, doughnuts, crackers and cake mixes; basically, all canned or boxed groceries should be evaluated.
Dietary recommendation: Limit to less than 1% of daily calories per day. For a 2,000 calorie a day diet, 1% equals 20 calories.*
3. Salt. Consumption of excess salt causes blood volume to increase, because sodium absorbs water. This causes the blood vessels to expand, which then increase pressure to surrounding areas, including the joints.
Dietary recommendation: No more than 2,300 mg per day, or about one teaspoon. Ideal amount: 1,500 mg per day.*
4. Processed meats. These are meats that have been changed from their original state through salting, curing, fermenting and/or smoking to enhance flavor and prolong shelf life. Hot dogs, ham, bacon, sausage, corned beef, beef jerky, bologna, some deli meat and canned meat are processed. These foods contain glycation end products (AGEs), which are formed during processing and cause inflammation.
Dietary Recommendation: Eliminate processed meat from diet if possible.
5. Refined Grains. White bread, doughnuts, pasta, crackers and pizza are all classic examples of refined grains, also known as “bad carbs.” Refined grains increase blood glucose level and increase inflammation in several parts of the body.
Dietary Recommendation: Refined grains should be eaten sparingly. Unrefined grains should make up about 45 to 64 percent of daily calories per day.**
For chronic knee pain, there isn’t a quick fix. But, there are things you can do to alleviate some discomfort and even slow down the progress of certain crippling diseases, which include arthritis. Good nutrition is a big one. Combine eating foods that are good for the joints, a good exercise program and a quality joint support supplement and you’ll be on your way to feeling better than ever.
*The American Heart Association
** U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources