Unfortunately there is still no clearly guideline of specific diet for osteoarthritis ‘OA’, a degenerative joint problem. However, diet can play a key role to help keep your weight off or lose your excessive weight since obesity can worsen the problem. Furthermore, some foods are also considered bad for this joint disease.
Inflammation in the joint can be caused by several factors such as injury, an autoimmune disorder (like in rheumatoid arthritis, a kind of arthritis triggered by the abnormality of immune system), and so on.
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If you have OA, your body (especially for the affected joint) can be more sensitive to inflammation. Any excess inflammation can make it worse. But there are several ways to ease it. One of them is with diet changes.
The following foods and ingredients may make the inflammation worse – they are commonly considered bad for people with OA.
Saturated fats and trans-fats
These kinds of fats are unhealthy choices. Unlike unsaturated fats, more saturated fats you eat can trigger adipose, causing increased risk of heart diseases and worsen the inflammation in arthritis.
Meat products (such as pizza), pasta dishes, cheese, grain-based deserts, and high-fat dairy products are some common sources of saturated fats. You may not need to totally skip fats in your diet, but make sure most of your daily fat intake is unsaturated fats, not saturated fats.
The same goes for trans-fats. They can be a trigger of systemic inflammation. Fried foods with partially hydrogenated oils, some frozen products for breakfast, processed snack foods, and other fast foods are some of the biggest sources of trans-fats.
Another bad news, both saturated fats and trans-fats are the top leading causes in increasing your bad cholesterol (LDL). See this section for more information about this fact!
Complex carbohydrates (like whole grains) are more recommended than refined /processed carbohydrates.
Refined carbs are not only bad for your blood sugar and weight control, but they may also trump fats and trigger the increased production of AGE ‘glycation end’. And having more AGE can stimulate more inflammation.
Casein and gluten, particularly if you also have celiac disease
Some people suffer from allergens such as casein and gluten. Actually, they are a kind of protein found in wheat and dairy products. For most people, eating them is safe.
But both casein and gluten may promote inflammation. This effect can be even worse if you have dairy intolerance and gluten allergy.
Whey protein products, barley, rye, and wheat are some common sources of casein and gluten.
Sugars can be found in many foods such as sodas, chocolate bars, pastries, and even fruit juices. And it may be so difficult to resist it.
But as long as you consume it in moderation, there should be nothing to worry. However, your doctor may ask you to reduce your sugar intake.
Furthermore, pay attention to processed sugars because they can trigger the body to produce a chemical called cytokines (an inflammatory messenger). And you need to know that sugars can come with many different names such as sucrose, fructose, or else ending in-ose-!
The imbalance of omega-6 fatty acids
Talking about healthy fatty acids, mostly you will think about omega-3 fatty acids. Yap, they are considered good and can provide some healthy benefits.
Omega-6 fatty acid is also essential for the body. It is needed to support some body functions such as for normal growth & development. But the problem comes when you eat it too much.
Excess omega-6 fatty acids in the body can be counterproductive, triggering the body to make pro-inflammatory chemicals. Therefore, make sure to eat these fats moderately. They can be found in mayonnaise, peanut, soy, sunflower, and corn.
We know it as a flavor-enhancing additive. It can be found in soup mixes, fast foods, soy sauces, salad dressings, and many prepared Asian-foods. It is bad for the health of your liver and a trigger of two pathways of lifelong /chronic inflammation.
Excessive alcohol consumption
Your body has its own mechanism to eliminate and remove alcohol that your drink. The liver plays a key role in this elimination.
But if you drink too much, the accumulation of alcohol in the body can be harmful. Excessive drinking can damage your liver in long term. This may also trigger more inflammation! That’s why if you have osteoarthritis, it’s much better to avoid alcohol or drink it only in moderation!
Be careful to aspartame
Aspartame is an intense artificial sweetener (non-nutritive). Nowadays, it is found in many food products.
Unfortunately, it can affect the brain. This can get worse if your body is sensitive to it – your immune system can be overactive and then will become a trigger of an inflammatory response.