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â€œArthritisâ€ as a general term means inflammation of one or more joints of the body such as the knee joint, shoulder joint or the joints of the spine. As a result of inflammation, the affected joint becomes red, swollen or tender. Although there are several types of arthritis, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis are the ones that commonly affect people worldwide.
Types Of Arthritis
Osteoarthritis can be seen as a progressive disorder of the joints due toâ€ wear and tearâ€™ or as a result of excessive weight bearing or due to depletion of calcium content within the bone as seen among postmenopausal women and people belonging to the elderly age group.
2. Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is a chronic autoimmune joint disorder which can affect people of any age group, especially middle-aged individuals. It is not related to depleting calcium content within the bones and affects smaller joints of the hands and feet bilaterally instead of larger ones, as seen in osteoarthritis. This chronic, systemic disorder of the joints affects about 0.90% population in India and can be seen in about 5% of females over the age of 70 years.
[Also Read: Ways To Make Life Easier With Rheumatoid arthritis]
Signs And Symptoms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
- The disorder begins with the involvement of small joints of the hands and feet and rarely involve large joints such as the knees, shoulder or elbows.
- Joint affection is bilateral, that is affecting the same joints on both sides of the body.
- The affected joint becomes painful, swollen and tender.
- Constitutional symptoms such as low-grade fever, malaise, fatigue, and appetite loss may be seen since rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic infection.
- Morning stiffness of affected joints.
- Rheumatoid nodules are seen in about 25% of patients affected by rheumatoid arthritis. It is characterized by the presence of multiple â€œlumpsâ€ under the skin or nodules over fingers, elbows, scalp and sacral areas.
Over a long duration of time, untreated or poorly managed cases of rheumatoid arthritis cause permanent damage to the joints resulting in swelling and deformities of joints, disability along with loss of function of the affected joint.
Uncontrolled rheumatoid arthritis is a serious illness as it is also is known to reduce the life span of patients by about 7 years as the illness also progresses to involve the lungs, heart, arteries and sometimes the kidneys too. Presence of RA (rheumatoid arthritis) factor in blood along with typical joint affections is diagnostic of rheumatoid arthritis.
6 Foods That Cause Arthritis Inflammation
As a general dietary recommendation, patients with rheumatoid arthritis are advised by doctors to consume foods that contain natural anti-inflammatory properties as an adjunction to ongoing conventional treatment.
Along with appropriate medications and exercise, it is equally important to keep track of the food that should be eaten or avoided. Certain foods increase arthritis inflammation and worsen the signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and must be avoided, such as
Foods with high sugar content such as sweets, bread, pastries, confectionaries or foods which contain added sugars need to be avoided by patients with rheumatoid arthritis as sugars cause release of inflammatory cytokines.
2. Fatty Foods
Foods containing trans fats and saturated fats such as red meat, full-fat milk and dairy products, fried and oily fast foods should be avoided by the patient with arthritis inflammation as fats are known to trigger inflammation. Fatty foods not only tend to complication rheumatoid arthritis but are also responsible for cardiac illnesses such as atherosclerosis. Additionally, studies also claim that patients with rheumatoid arthritis are at a higher risk of developing cardiac illnesses.
3. Excess Of Omega 6 Fatty Acids
This type of fatty acids is frequently found in refined oils such as sunflower, safflower, grape seed, peanut, soy and vegetable oils. It is also abundantly present in salad dressings, peanut butter spreads, and mayonnaise. The omega 6 fatty acids present in these foods cause a release of pro-inflammatory chemicals in the body; therefore causing or increasing arthritis inflammation.
4. Excess Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates have a high glycemic index as they are ultimately broken down by the body into starch and sugars, thereby increasing blood sugar levels. High sugars in return cause release of inflammatory mediators which trigger inflammation and worsen rheumatoid arthritis.
Researchers have observed that a correlation exists between patients with rheumatoid arthritis being sensitive to gluten-containing foods and are also often diagnosed with celiac disease (a disorder of the intestine due to gluten intolerance). Gluten present in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye are known to produce a strong autoimmune response that may also involve the joints affected by rheumatoid arthritis. It is also observed that patients with rheumatoid arthritis who consumed gluten-free products experienced lesser episodes of joint pain and tenderness.
There are some studies which claim that anti-inflammatory properties of alcohol, when consumed in moderation, are beneficial to the body as they are known to reduce circulating biomarkers of inflammation; thereby also reducing the risk of cardiovascular illnesses in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
On the other hand, consuming alcohol while on treatment for rheumatoid arthritis also has its own downsides as alcohol may cause drug interactions with the prescribed medicines for rheumatoid arthritis or may even hamper the action of medicines and produce side effects.
[Also Read: How To Manage Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome]
In general practice, a multi-modal approach is implemented to improve the quality of life of patients with rheumatoid arthritis so that the chances of developing deformities and disabilities are reduced and even prevented.
Living with rheumatoid arthritis becomes much simpler when basic guidelines regarding medications, diet, and exercise are followed religiously by patients to reduce pain, swelling, inflammation, and discomfort of affected joints.
The above-mentioned foods need not be completely eliminated from the diet; however, they can be consumed in moderation in order to prevent or worsen arthritis inflammation. It is essential to ask your doctor about the stoppage of one or more of these foods or if continued, then in what moderation. It is also a wiser option to consult a qualified dietician or a nutritionist regarding foods that cause arthritis inflammation and which of these should be either reduced or completely eliminated from the diet.