Nutrition and Arthritis
 
  Arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the United States and affects over 43 million Americans. Osteoarthritis is a condition characterized by the breakdown of cartilage that lines or cushions the ends of bones. As cartilage deteriorates, bones begin to rub against one another causing stiffness and pain that make the joint difficult to use. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease, characterized by inflammation of the lining (synovium) of the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis can lead to long-term joint damage, resulting in chronic pain, loss of function, and disability. Nutrition is vital tool in fighting arthritis. Food allergy can trigger arthritis for some people, and if there is a food that makes your joints hurt or swell, you should avoid it, no matter how healthy it would be for someone who's not sensitive to it. Foods affect the joints in two major ways. First, certain foods trigger the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, and eliminating these foods sometimes causes even long-standing symptoms to improve or even remit entirely. Second, certain fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory action that can reduce joint pain, stiffness, and swelling. In 1981, the British Medical Journal reported the case of a woman whose battle with rheumatoid arthritis suddenly ended when doctors discovered that her symptoms were triggered by corn products. Corn was eliminated from her diet and, after 25 years of joint pains, her symptoms were gone. The most common nutritional recommendations for helping reduce the symptoms of arthritis are eating 6-8 servings of fruits and vegetables every day and choose those with bright or deep colors like cherries, berries and sweet potatoes. Extra-virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil, and flaxseed meal also have significant anti-inflammatory effects. Beans and other legumes are an excellent nutritional food that has anti-inflammatory effects. Using spices in preparing your food, such as ginger will also provide excellent anti-inflammatory effects. The amount of ginger usually used is 1/2-1 teaspoon (1-2 grams) of powdered ginger each day and other spices, including clove oil, garlic, turmeric, and cumin have shown similar effects. One of the most significant things you can do is to avoid sugar and foods with added sugar and refined carbohydrates. Several studies have shown that consuming foods of this type aggravates inflammation. Physical activity and weight loss are two effective non-drug treatments for osteoarthritis. Physical activity on a regular basis helps strengthen muscles and bones, increase flexibility and stamina, and improve your general sense of well-being. Shedding extra pounds can ease the strain on your joints and every pound lost reduces the burden on your knees by 4 pounds. Eating the right foods along with increasing your physical activity and reducing your weight can help reduce your symptoms of arthritis and improve your quality of life.