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HEALTH & FITNESS ARTICLES

Diet and Arthritis

Diet and Arthritis.

Diet does not have a significant direct impact on arthritis. Diets, vitamins and supplements will not cure or improve your arthritis but altering your diet to maintain or attain the right weight is an important step to reduce the burden of arthritis.

For weight loss, dietary change and the amount you consume is important. Your diet must contain basic nutrients such as minerals and vitamins. Poor diet will impact on your general health and subsequently on your arthritis.

Studies have shown that diets lacking certain important nutrients can increase the rate of progression of arthritis and the right diet could slow this process down.

To help your arthritis, ensure your diet is balanced and varied and incorporates vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and other essential nutrients. Reduce animal fats and eat more fish. Take plenty of fruit and vegetables.

Omega-3 polyunsaturated fats found in fish oil, has been shown to be beneficial in inflammatory arthritis. It is also useful in gout but it has a high quantity of purines which is broken down in the body to produce urates and therefore should be avoided in gout. There is no evidence that omega-6 fatty acids are beneficial.

A balanced and varied diet with more fish, fruit and vegetables is beneficial in all forms of arthritis. Nutritional supplements are available over the counter and are usually costly. Most of the ingredients are present in a balanced diet. If you feel you cannot maintain a balanced diet, consider this option.

Your weight is important. So what should your weight be? You should use the Body Mass Index (BMI) as a guide to assess whether your weight is acceptable or not. To find out your BMI, first measure your height in metres, (say 2metres) then multiply it by itself (2x2=4). Check your weight in kilograms (say 80Kg). Now divide your weight in Kg by the first figure (80 divided by 4 =20). That is your Body Mass Index (20). Recommended BMI for most people is between 20 and 25. For your arthritis aim to be within this range if you can.

From childhood I have been told that calcium is good for my bones. Lack of calcium may lead to osteoporosis especially in arthritic patients. Vitamin D is also important for bone formation. Lack of this vitamin in children can lead to Ricketts. In adults it can cause osteomalacia.

The commonest source of calcium is in milk. If you are on skimmed milk as part of your low fat and calorie controlled diet be assured that skimmed milk has more calcium in it that full fat milk. Daily recommended intake of calcium in under sixties is 1000mg and over 60s -1500mg. During the summer your body manufactures vitamin D through the sunlight on your skin and you do not need to worry about Vitamin D intake. You, therefore, need to be more vigilant in winter. Older arthritic patients may need supplements.

In case of gout, you should be careful with certain foods. Foods high in purines such as meat and fish should be consumed with care. Avoid or reduce alcohol.

Fish liver oil contains both omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin D. It is a useful supplement but care should be taken in women thinking of starting a family or already pregnant. It also contains Vitamin A and is not recommended in pregnancy because of potential harm to the foetus. Avoid fish liver oil or vitamin A supplements. It is better to take pure fish oil (high in omega-3 but has no Vitamin A) rather than fish liver oil.

A balanced and varied diet with all the right nutrients is an important part of the treatment of arthritis. Combined with the right regular exercise, diet will not only help your arthritic joint but will help your general well being. On the other hand, irrespective of whatever treatment of arthritis you are on, a diet devoid of the essential ingredients to maintain good healthy bones will impact negatively on your joints.

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Dr.Phil Hariram is a retired General Practitioner. He has used conventional medicine, acupuncture, hypnotheray and other forms of treatment to help patients with arthritis.
www.arthritissage.com

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