Rheumatoid Arthritis: NHS on common signs and symptoms
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Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in a joint. Although inflammation has its benefits – it’s the immune system’s way of fighting off foreign agents, chronic inflammation can produce unwanted effects, such as arthritis.
The key to countering inflammation is therefore to strip your diet of all things inflammatory where possible.
According to Harvard Health, refined carbohydrates can “cause” inflammation.
Refined carbohydrates, also known as “simple” carbs, refer to sugars (e.g. glucose, fructose, sucrose) or anything made from grains which have had the fibrous wheat germ and bran removed.
Everyday examples of refined carbohydrates include white bread and pastries.
“Try to avoid or limit these foods as much as possible,” advises Harvard Health.
Other health bodies echo this claim. According to the Arthritis Foundation (AF), processed carbohydrates may “trump” fats as the main driver of escalating rates of obesity and other chronic conditions.
“These high-glycaemic index [GI] foods fuel the production of advanced glycation end (AGE) products that stimulate inflammation.”
The GI is a ranking system for carbohydrates based on how quickly the body converts them into glucose.
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Good carb bad carb
Instead, you should opt for complex, or “good” carbs, which are in many ways the opposite of their refined counterparts, explains Holland and Barrett.
“Incorporating starchy and fibrous foods, complex carbs are loved by nutritionists for their health-boosting properties.”
According to the health body, complex carbs are made of longer chains of molecules than refined carbs.
“As a result, they are digested more slowly and aren’t broken down into glucose as rapidly by your body. This provides your body with longer-lasting energy as opposed to the blood sugar spike followed by a ‘crash’ which can leave you feeling weak, hungry and dizzy.”
- Wholegrain bread and pasta
- Brown rice
- Grains such as quinoa and freekeh
- Most fruits and vegetables
- Legumes such as lentils and beans.
What else to avoid
Several studies have shown that saturated fats trigger adipose (fat tissue) inflammation, which is not only an indicator for heart disease but it also worsens arthritis inflammation.
Pizza and cheese are the biggest sources of saturated fats in the average American diet, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Other culprits include meat products (especially red meat), full-fat dairy products, pasta dishes and grain-based desserts.
Other tips to alleviate arthritis
If your arthritis is painful, you may not feel like exercising. However, being active can help reduce and prevent pain.
According to the NHS, regular exercise can also:
- Improve your 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,” explains 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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