Unlike other forms of arthritis, osteoarthritis (OA) can be somewhat managed by lifestyle choices, including the diet that you eat. Much research has been done in recent years on this subject, and there is still a lot to learn but more and more evidence is coming to light that foods rich in certain nutrients will in fact make it easier to fend off OA or treat it if it does occur. 5 of these food categories are discussed below.
Vitamin-C Rich Foods
Vitamin C is thought to help with OA management both because it necessary for the formation of collagen (a major component of joint-cushioning cartilage) and because it is a powerful antioxidant which can help reduce stress and aging of the joints. OA experts recommend around 200mg daily for disease management. Good dietary sources of this include fruits like citrus, strawberries, kiwis and cantaloupe as well as vegetables such as cauliflower, potatoes and leafy green vegetables.
Beta-carotene is also thought to be important to good OA management. Like Vitamin C, it is a powerful antioxidant which can help reduce the continued aging and deterioration of the joints and thus slow the disease progression. OA doctors recommend 9,000 IU’s of this a day for disease management. Good dietary sources include fruits like mangoes and peaches as well as vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, kale and red pepper.
Vitamin D-Rich Foods
Vitamin D is needed for the formation and maintenance of healthy joints and consequently, a lack of it leads to cartilage loss and a worsening of OA. 600 IU a day is recommended for OA management. Vitamin D can be had by exposure to sunlight (without sunscreen) for 15 minutes, 3-4 times a week. However, most people cannot be out in the sun this much. Dietary sources include fortified cereals and breads, eggs, fatty fish and fortified milk.
Omega-3 Fatty Acid-Rich Foods
This fatty acids are excellent for OA because they are powerful anti-inflammatories which help reduce the pain and stiffness that comes from inflamed joints. While there is some disagreement on this subject, most OA experts recommend around 3 grams of Omega-3 fatty acids daily. Sources of these include cold-water fish like salmon, tuna and sardines, nuts like walnuts and pecans, soy products and flax or flaxseed oil.
Keep in mind that some recommendations for dietary management of OA do not have any scientific backing for their claims. These include the Nightshade Diet (where members of the nightshade family like tomatoes and potatoes are avoided), the Alkaline Diet (where high-acid foods like citrus fruits, tomatoes and red meat are eliminated) and the Dong Diet (which emphasizes heavy consumption of vegetables), none of which have been clinically substantiated. A diet high in the nutrients discussed above, however, should help relieve some of the discomfort that osteoarthritis can bring with it.
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