Arthritis And Diet: Is There A Connection?

So much of what we’ve learned about nutrition over the years reveals just how directly our diet can impact both our long-term and short-term health. Researchers uncovered the link between the gluten in so much of our food and Celiac disease, an immune reaction causing inflammation in the small intestine, but does that mean other conditions also can be linked back to the foods you eat? In some cases, yes, and in others, like arthritis, you could say the jury’s still out.

Food allergies, like those to peanuts or shellfish, can trigger a potentially lethal reaction, so sufferers tend to be extremely careful about how their meals are prepared, especially when dining out. It makes perfect sense that people with these types of allergies do anything they can to eliminate or at least minimize their potential exposure to the foods or additives that will make them sick, or sometimes worse. So why not try the same thing with other health issues, like arthritis? It’s an inflammation of the joints, so it seems possible something you’re eating may be provoking your body’s physical reaction – similar to an allergy.

Is There An Arthritis Diet?

The index of conceivable arthritis food offenders reads much like the list of “bad” foods we’re always being warned about: saturated and trans fats, dairy, Aspartame, processed sugar, and refined carbs just to name a few. And all have their specific reasons why they deserve the extra scrutiny. Of course, as prevalent in the American diet as those are, eliminating them all from your diet can prove difficult. One method researchers utilize is a fasting period, followed up by reintroducing individual foods back into the eating plan one by one. When symptoms start reappearing, it stands to reason you’ve identified a potential culprit.

While fasting is an extreme measure and should only be done under doctor supervision (if at all), studies have shown that it provides short-term benefits for some arthritis sufferers, but mostly only during the fast itself. Once the regular diet restarts so do the symptoms. Eliminating specific foods or food groups can be beneficial, but primarily on a case-by-case basis. A study at the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center concluded, “you may identify a food that is a particular trigger for you, and this phenomenon is real. However, the science is not able to reliably identify specific triggers for individuals.” In other words, what works for other people may not work for you.