Arthritis and the Mediterranean diet

Friday October 16, 2020
Arthritis and the Mediterranean diet

. Some elements of the Mediterranean diet are useful in the fight against arthritis

. Fish, grains and berries are foods you should look to incorporate into your diet

. Use discretion in regards to alcohol when trying to manage arthritis

When constructing a diet to reduce the symptoms of arthritis there are certain foods you can incorporate.  These include fish, grain and berries amongst others. They provide value because they are good at reducing inflammation which is one of the keys to managing arthritis. Foods you should look to avoid are fats, sugar and salt. It’s a matter of common sense but you should avoid foods that inflame the condition and eat foods that improve the condition.

This health study goes on to say that ‘Twenty-four percent of subjects reported that foods affect their RA, with 15% reporting improvement and 19% worsening. Blueberries and spinach were the foods most often reported to improve RA symptoms, while soda with sugar and desserts were most often reported to worsen RA symptoms.’

Is the Mediterranean diet helpful?

Over the years some have advocated the virtues of the Mediterranean diet which embodies a more traditional way of living. Excess sugar is avoided, meat is eaten sparingly and the focus is food sourced from the earth. The emphasis is on plant foods, fruit and vegetables, fish and seafood, all of which can provide value. For flavour, meals are cooked in olive oil and topped up with red wine.

Advocates of the Mediterranean diet love the freshness and vibrancy of the food but in terms of reducing arthritis the medical information is varied. This journal looked at four studies that had incorporated Mediterranean elements and found that ‘Only one study reported a reduction in the 28 joint count disease activity score for rheumatoid arthritis.

This review has identified beneficial effects of the Mediterranean diet in reducing pain and increasing physical function in people living with rheumatoid arthritis. However, there is currently insufficient evidence to support widespread recommendation of the Mediterranean diet for prevention of rheumatoid arthritis.’

In regards to olive oil this study suggests it has a positive impact. It says that ‘Studies have also shown that incorporation of olive oil in diet decreases the risk of developing RA.’  

What about wine?

Wine is a staple in that part of the world but what is its effect on arthritis? The studies are varied but it’s generally accepted that excessive alcohol can be detrimental to those already suffering from the ailment. It can potentially inflame the condition.

But if you drink in moderation, it might not be all bad. You have to find the right balance. In regards to red wine there might be some good news. According to the Arthritis foundation: ‘Red wine has a compound in it called resveratrol, which has well-established anti-inflammatory effects. Some studies show wine consumption is associated with a reduced risk of knee OA, and moderate drinking is also associated with a reduced risk of RA.’

But it does also state that ‘many experts question the strength of these studies.’ However, other studies have drawn similar conclusions. This study states that ‘intra-articular injection of resveratrol may protect cartilage against the development of experimentally induced IA.’  

Look at all options

There is certainly a mixed bag in regards to the scientific backing of the virtues of red wine, but if you are going to incorporate it into your diet perhaps it’s best to tread lightly and do so gently and moderately.

When looking a the big picture, The Mediterranean diet certainly has some elements to it that make it an attractive option. You can certainly source specific nutrients that have proven therapeutic value. But you still have to research thoroughly, consult with your doctor and consider all the other options at your disposal as well.

References

NCBI

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5563270/

NCBI

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29256100/#:~:text=Only%20one%20study%20reported%20a,people%20living%20with%20rheumatoid%20arthritis.

NCBI

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5682732/

Arthritis Foundation

https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/healthy-living/nutrition/healthy-eating/best-drinks-for-arthritis#:~:text=Red%20wine%20has%20a%20compound,a%20reduced%20risk%20of%20RA.

NCBI

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17115116/

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