About half of those over 65 years report having arthritis. That means about half those over 65 years old suffer debilitating pain from swollen joints and inflammation. Some take medication while others reduce the pain through exercise, meditation and stretching.
Although arthritis cannot be reversed, you can take steps to further reduce the damage to your joints and lessen the pain. Can changing your diet help you manage your arthritis?
How does an unhealthy diet exacerbate inflammation?
The intestines in our body form a barrier that prevent large, foreign molecules from passing through. The mucus in the intestines transforms large, complex molecules into small ones. However, when you have what is called a “leaky gut”, the intestine’s large molecules sometimes get through the barrier. The intestinal tract is said to have increased permeability. The increased permeability of your intestinal tract comes about when you eat processed and fatty foods. In addition to having a leaky gut, your intestinal tract becomes inflamed. A healthy plant-based diet decreases permeability and inflammation.
Numerous studies that have been conducted since 1979 link healthy diets to reduced arthritis symptoms. Over years, these results have shared a theme: eliminating dairy products and meats lessened inflammation and pain. In 2015, 600 participants followed a vegan diet for three months. The vegan diet reduced C-reactive protein, one of the markers for inflammation. After three months, the participants saw significant improvement in morning stiffness, swollen joints, pain, and grip strength as compared to those who consumed an ordinary diet. In addition, other arthritis patients have claimed that introducing a plant diet helped eliminate the need for medication.
Embracing a vegan diet
How should you start? Cutting out inflammatory-causing foods like red meat, dairy, fried foods and processed foods are the first steps you should take to help your arthritis. A vegan diet goes further, though. It excludes all animal products, including meat, eggs and dairy. When you make vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds the majority of your diet, your body may start to see a decrease in arthritic flare ups.
If you’re looking to go fully vegan, ease into it gradually. A pure vegan diet can be hard to maintain. Have three days a week of no meat, for example. You can also select a modified vegan diet that will allow fish. If you’re struggling to commit to a 100% vegan diet, know that you don’t have to go all in to see the benefits. Even cutting out inflammatory-causing foods most of the time will help. Here are some steps that you can follow:
- Eat more fruits and vegetables. Increase the amount of fruits and vegetables that you eat. Concentrate more on green vegetables like broccoli, lettuce and cabbage.
- Increase the fiber in your diet. Introduce whole-wheat starches and brown rice into your diet instead of pasta, white bread and white rice.
- Reduce red meat. Cut out red meat slowly. You can start by switching to lean meats once a week. Next, bring it down to once every two weeks and then once a month. If you reach a point where you don’t miss eating red meat, then try cutting meat out altogether.
In order to help your body fight arthritis, you must transform your life through healthy eating and exercising. Can a vegan diet help with your arthritis? You can only know the answer to that question if you try.
Written by Carolyn Ridland exclusively for NurseRegistry.com
“Hello. My name is Carolyn Ridland, and I am the founder of CaregiverConnection.
About 10 years ago, my parents began reaching the point where they could not be self-sufficient anymore. I was just married with two toddlers, so I felt like I couldn’t take them in, yet I wanted to make sure they were taken care of.
I want to share my story, and let you know that you are not alone if you are in a similar position. Children are expected to take care of their elderly parents when the time comes, but it’s not always that easy.
Caregiver Connection emerged from a place of real love and compassion. We understand the struggle that exists when you care deeply about your loved ones, but you’re faced with decisions you never wanted to make. Our main message is that nobody should have to face these times alone.”