Excess Fat: It’s Toll on Arthritis
According to the National Institute of Health, arthritis affects about one in every five people in the United States. There are over 100 different types of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common form, but rheumatoid arthritis is a close second.
Excess fat is a problem for arthritis patients.
Changing your diet can make an impact and put you on the right track.
Arthritis and excess fat
Extra belly fat increases your chances of developing arthritis. The likelihood of obesity increases as cortisol hormones and adipose tissue develop. Cortisol hormones play a role in the production of belly fat. During stress, our brains release a hormone that triggers the release of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which help mobilize carbohydrates and fat for quick energy. When the immediate stress is over, the adrenaline dissipates, but the cortisol lingers to help bring the body back into balance. Exposure to prolonged periods of stress and cortisol can lead to excess fat, especially belly fat.
Adipose tissue is specialized connective tissue that functions as the major storage site for fat. When you gain weight, adipose tissue increases. The more excess fat you develop, the higher chance you have of developing arthritis.
A disease of inflammation
Arthritis is a disease of inflammation so the best solution is anything that fights inflammation. Naturally, you’d turn to anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen, but natural care starts with nutrition.
Excess fat puts extra stress on the joints and increases the risk for extra wear and tear. Think about it this way, every one pound of weight you lose corresponds to four pounds of less stress and pressure on your knees.
Another reason excess fat is a big no-no is because it is metabolically active and capable of producing hormones and chemicals that can actually INCREASE the levels of inflammation within your body.
Food is medicine
In this case, food is medicine. If you eat healthy foods that don’t promote inflammation, you’re good to go. Foods you should stay away from are: saturated fats, Trans fat and simple, refined carbohydrates.
These foods will help reduce inflammation
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3’s work to decrease inflammation by suppressing the production of cytokines and enzymes that erode cartilage.
Omega-3’s are already filled with good health benefits, but they can also help get rid of excess fat and make your arthritis symptoms more bearable.
Extra-virgin olive oil
Olive oil contains monounsaturated fat, which helps shield the body against inflammation because of its antioxidants called polyphenols. When cooking, try using olive oil as much as you can—in realistic amounts.
Antioxidants like vitamin-C, selenium, carotenes and bioflavonoids
Inflammation produces free radicals—cell-damaging molecules that are formed in response to toxins or natural body processes. Antioxidants are a big deal because they protect the body from the effects of free radicals and care a critical component of an anti-inflammatory diet.
Research shows that people who eat a low diet in vitamin-C are actually more prone to developing different kinds of arthritis. Some of the best foods you can eat that contain vitamin-C are: guava, sweet peppers (yellow/red/green), oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, pineapple, papayas, lemons, broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts, kidney beans, kiwi, cantaloupe, cauliflower, red cabbage, mangoes, white potato (with skin) and mustard greens.
People who ate very few selenium-rich foods were nearly twice as likely to have severe arthritis compared to those who ate a selenium-rich diet.
Try incorporating these selenium-rich foods into your diet: Brazil nuts, tuna (to avoid mercury, buy light canned tuna), crab, oysters, tilapia, pasta (whole-wheat), lean beef, cod, shrimp, whole grains, turkey and wheat germ.
This is a powerful antioxidant nutrient found in many fruits and vegetables. They may reduce the risk of developing inflammation-related diseases, including arthritis. Try these delicious foods: sweet potato, carrots, kale, butternut squash, turnip greens, pumpkin, mustard greens, cantaloupe, sweet red pepper, spinach, winter squash, pumpkin, persimmons, papaya, tangerines, red peppers, corn, oranges and apricots.
Bioflavonoids—quercetin and anthocyanidins
These are both forms of antioxidants. The effects of quercetin may be similar to those of anti-inflammatory medicines like aspirin and ibuprofen. Try eating these foods that are high in quercetin: onions (red, yellow, white), kale, leeks, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, blueberries, black currants, elderberries, lingonberries, cocoa powder, apricots and apples with skin (try Red Delicious).
Anthocyanidins are also known to reduce inflammation. They contribute to the health of connective tissue and are more powerful than vitamin-C for defusing dangerous free radicals. Some foods containing anthocyanidins are: blackberries, black currants, blueberries, eggplant, elderberries, raspberries, cherries, boysenberries, red/black grapes, strawberries and plums
Spices—ginger and turmeric
Ginger contains chemicals that work like aspirin or ibuprofen. Ginger can also be a blood thinner so be careful when incorporating it into your diet. Speak to your doctor first and don’t consume too much. Try ginger tea, grating fresh ginger into stir-fries or low-fat ginger muffins.
Turmeric is a mustard-yellow spice from Asia. It’s the main ingredient in yellow curry. Turmeric may help arthritis by suppressing inflammatory body chemicals.