Concerns culminating in the withdrawal of several selective COX-2 inhibitors, like Vioxx, have many arthritis sufferers searching for answers and alternative therapies.Afflicting one in three adults in America, the two most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).Osteoarthritis, the most prevalent joint condition, often occurs with aging as cartilage wears down over time, causing swelling and pain as bone rubs against bone.Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy joint tissue, causing inflammation and joint damage.Diet and lifestyle habits have the potential to either aggravate or alleviate the symptoms of both conditions.We’ve combed the scientific literature for nutrients and habits that can help reduce the inflammation and pain associated with arthritis:
Lose Weight - If you’re among the majority of Americans who are either obese or overweight, slimming down can significantly slow progression of joint degeneration and ease pain.In fact, you can reduce knee stress by 40 to 80 pounds with a mere 10-pound weight loss according to the Arthritis Advisor.
Increase Vitamin C: According to a Boston University study, people getting under 150 mg daily of vitamin C had faster cartilage breakdown.Best sources include: citrus fruit, pineapple, kiwi, broccoli, cauliflower, cantaloupe, papaya, strawberries, tomato, sweet and hot peppers, kale, collard greens and sweet potato.
Increase Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Helps RA by reducing inflammation.The best sources are fish such as salmon, halibut and sardines.Plant sources include flaxseed oil, pecans, walnuts, tofu and leafy green vegetables.
Increase Vitamin D: Research suggests those who meet their daily D requirements are less vulnerable to arthritis pain.The mechanism may be greater absorption of calcium, which is important for bone health. Best sources are oysters, canned salmon, sardines and sunshine.
Increase Calcium: Holds the line against OA by slowing bone loss.Best sources include non-fat dairy, collard greens, rhubarb, soybeans and arugula.
Try Tea: Green and black tea contain flavonoids, antioxidant compounds that may block the production of prostaglandins, which cause inflammation and pain.
Increase Fruit & Veggie Intake: Harvard research found a link between low fruit and vegetable consumption and higher risk of RA.High fiber, water and nutrient content also help with weight management and protection against free radical damage.
Limit Saturated Fats: “Too much saturated fat is counterproductive for fighting arthritis,” says Cornell University’s Food & Fitness Advisor. Limit red meat, in particular.British researchers found that too much red meat increased the risk of RA. Those who ate the most red meat were twice as likely to develop RA than those who limited their intake to less than an ounce per day.
For more arthritis information, visit the Arthritis Foundation’s website.
Published June 27, 2005