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Osteoarthritis: Symptoms and Foods to Avoid
Throughout life the joints naturally experience wear and tear that adds up. Individuals of an advanced age may start to see the symptoms of osteoarthritis develop, such as joint stiffness, swelling, decreased range of motion, and pain. There are a handful of risk factors that can increase the chances of osteoarthritis, such as joint overuse, injury, age, obesity, and genetics.
There are currently millions of U.S. adults that suffer with osteoarthritis. However, understanding the symptoms as well as how to manage osteoarthritis can make a significant difference. For instance, start by avoiding foods that exacerbate osteoarthritis symptoms:
1. Refined sugars
The most common foods that have refined sugars in them are cookies and cakes, as well as foods such as bread, pasta, and crackers. Eating foods high in refined sugars can lead to increased inflammation, which will leave your joints feeling weaker than usual. In order to avoid worsening symptoms, use natural sugars such as honey or maple syrup.
2. Foods high in salt
Salt is a hidden ingredient found in a lot of foods, such as canned soups and breakfast cereals, which can make it hard to avoid. It is actually important that one consumes a certain amount of sodium a day to help their body function, but too much sodium can lead to increased symptoms of osteoarthritis. Sodium allows cells to retain water in your body, and too much sodium can lead to excess water retention and increased swelling of the joints. Since salt is in nearly everything there are not any specific foods to avoid, but be conscious of the sodium content in what you are eating. If you find that you have been consuming too much sodium in a day, use other spices as a substitute for salt, like garlic powder, celery, mustard, dill, and flavored black pepper.
3. Fried foods
Fried foods such as french fries, doughnuts, and potato chips, are high in saturated fats. The saturated fats contained in these foods can lead to increased inflammation, and the trans fatty oils used in these foods can also lead to an increase in LDL (or bad) cholesterol. In order to cut down fried foods, use baking, steaming or sauteing as a cooking alternative, and substitute your favorite fried foods, like potato wedges, with baked “fries” without oil additives.
4. White flour
Foods made from refined white flour such as pasta, cereal, and many bread products can trigger the inflammatory system to over-act, leading to an increase in osteoarthritis pain. This can be avoided by choosing whole grain products rather than products that contain a lot of refined white flour.
5. Omega-6 fatty acids
Excess omega-6 fatty acids will also cause increased pain from osteoarthritis. The main foods that are high in omega-6 fatty acids are egg yolks and red meat. By consuming foods such as fish, avocado, and nuts you will still get the protein and healthy fats that you need, but these will not cause worsening osteoarthritis symptoms.
Dairy products may cause increased inflammation for some, but not all. The link between dairy products and osteoarthritis is still being examined, but if you see a flare up in inflammation you may have a dairy sensitivity. So it is always safe to cut out dairy products and see if this helps lessen arthritis inflammation.
By being conscious of what you eat can help minimize the symptoms of osteoarthritis.