The Joy of Eating for Joint Health

QUESTION: I am showing signs of rheumatoid arthritis -- is there anything I can do to avoid the pain and disfigurement that my mother suffered when she had it?

ANSWER: First, see your doctor to discuss whether your symptoms are truly caused by rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Although there is a genetic link, the fact that your mother had it doesn't necessarily mean you do. The diagnosis is usually confirmed with blood tests and X-rays.

RA causes inflammation in the lining of the joint. This occurs as the body's own immune system starts attacking the joints, irritating the nerve endings (it's not clear why this happens).

As a result of the inflammation, the joints can swell, becoming sore and hot as well as restricting movement. The inflammation and strain this puts on joints can lead to disfigurement. You can also feel overwhelmingly tired and low.

More than 350,000 people in Britain suffer from RA, and it affects all ages.

However, its usual onset is between the ages of 40 and 50. About three times as many women as men are affected, but it is not known why.

It is a nasty condition but one that can be helped by altering your diet.

But what works for one person won't necessarily work for another. This is why there are so many old wives' tales flying around about foods that can trigger inflammation, with oranges, coffee, aubergines and tomatoes classically taking the brunt of the blame.

Certainly, smoking and red meat can be triggers, and some people find specific alcohols -- white wine in particular -- can aggravate it. Fasting is often recommended, but I would warn against this because depriving yourself of food can leave you very depleted nutritionally and in terms of energy. The best way to identify a particular trigger is to keep a food and symptom diary, recording everything you eat and drink alongside details of how you're feeling. Remove any possible problem foods from your diet for a couple of weeks to see if your symptoms improve. Something that is effective in reducing the symptoms is eating plenty of oily fish -- sardines, mackerel, salmon, pilchards, fresh tuna (tinned tuna isn't rich enough, but other tinned oily fish, such as sardines, are). This is probably because the omega-3 fatty acids in these stimulate the body to produce substances that dampen the inflammatory response. Next: The facts >
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Source: Health & Wellness

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