Improving the symptoms of Rheumatism
In the UK, around 10 million people have arthritis. It affects people of all ages, including children.Rheumatism is a disease of the muscles, joints and connective tissue and there are many different forms of the condition. The most common symptoms are pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints; in severe cases, the joints can even become deformed. Little is known about the causes of rheumatism. Some types of rheumatoid arthritis come under the category of autoimmune diseases, where the body attacks its own cells thus causing the symptoms.
Types of Arthritis
The two most common types of arthritis are:
2. Rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatic patients often use heavy medication to keep their symptoms under control. However, a healthy lifestyle can help to reduce the symptoms of rheumatism. There are indications that food affects the reduction of rheumatic complaints, but there isn’t yet any conclusive evidence and the opinions of experts are divided. The Arthritis Foundation, for example, says that little is known about the effect of diet on arthritis, but doctors like Dr Gert Schuitemaker (author of Joints and Nutrition) believe that rheumatic complaints are not a localised problem but caused by a bodily disorder in which nutrition plays a key role. Additional scientific research is necessary to be able to say with certainty whether rheumatic complaints are reduced by certain nutrients or a diet.
The most commonly affected joints are those in the:
The Food Pyramid
A healthy and varied diet is important for everyone and is even more vital for those suffering from a rheumatic condition. The Arthritis Foundation recommends following an anti-inflammatory diet, which provides you with all the nutrients you need, as well as including foods which can help reduce inflammation and ease the pain. It is also important to exercise to maintain your weight. Many doctors also use natural medicine in addition to normal treatment methods.
Dr Tisscher, for example, is a rheumatologist who has been using dietary therapy for years, with good results in his patients. Patients have to follow a nutritional observation diet of several weeks, to keep track of what is eaten and the subsequent effects so that a personal diet or lifestyle plan can be prepared, which can often reduce rheumatic symptoms.
Guidelines for nutrition in rheumatic diseases
The best diet for you is a very personal thing. It partly depends on the symptoms you have, your lifestyle and if you are already nutrient deficient. In general, the following guidelines are recommended for rheumatism.
Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, preferably at every meal. Vegetable juices and smoothies are also healthy. These foods contain many healthy nutrients such as fibre, protein, iron, and vitamins. Sometimes, rheumatism medication can lead to deficiencies of vitamin A, B, D, calcium and folic acid. In addition, vitamin C and D may have a positive effect on the course of rheumatism.
If you have rheumatism, you are at greater risk of becoming overweight, which can, in turn, exacerbate the symptoms of the disease. You should ideally opt for good fats in your diet. There is an important distinction between good and bad fats. Good fats are, for example, found in oily fish, nuts, butter, coconut oil and olive oil. Avoid processed products such as biscuits, crisps, and cake. These contain bad fats: trans fats.
Vitamin D-Make sure you get enough vitamin D by eating oily fish a few times a week, for example, and going out each day as your body makes vitamin D from sunlight. Although the evidence is inconclusive, there are indications that vitamin D has a beneficial effect on inflammatory rheumatism.
Healthy Diet-Eat plenty of nutrition with high levels of antioxidants, such as brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, green tea and extra dark chocolate. Antioxidants inhibit the formation of harmful substances in the body that may play a role in the pathogenesis of RA.
Stay Hydrated-Drink enough stay hydrated to help the kidneys flush waste from the body. Drink water, herbal tea, and freshly squeezed vegetable juices. If there are immune reactions in the body, waste will be released. The kidneys ensure that the waste is removed quickly from the body to prevent damage.
Do you have a rheumatic condition and are you concerned about your diet? If so consult your GP, rheumatologist or dietician for advice.
Sources:arthritis.org, NHS Choices