Nutrition plays a very important role in maintaining your overall health. It is essential to have a balanced diet, ensuring your meals contain a variety of the main food groups. Eating proper amounts of the right foods can make a tremendous difference – not least because it prevents obesity, which adds extra pressure on joints already affected by arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions. The body requires a wide range of vitamins and minerals to function properly, which can all be obtained from a healthy diet. All foods can be broken down into five major types: carbohydrates, proteins, fats and sugars, fruit and vegetables and dairy products. Each provides your body with something that it needs. It’s essential to have a balance of these groups in your diet to maintain a healthy body.
Maintaining a balanced diet reduces the symptoms of some arthritis conditions: certain foods are known to be have anti-inflammatory properties which reduce symptoms such as pain and swelling. Omega-3, which is found in oily fish, has proven to have a positive effect on Rheumatoid Arthritis by reducing inflammation. A large part of eating healthily is not just eating more of the right foods, but reducing foods that are harmful to the body, like fats and sugars. The difficulties people with arthritis face can also restrict food choices and makes eating healthy a challenge. Shopping may be a struggle for some, while others may find opening tins, using a sharp knife, or lifting heavy pans may limit their choice of meals.
There are adaptive aids available to open tins and jars, and supermarkets will deliver shopping, so look at all the options to make life easier. The safest route to a healthy diet is to follow the parameters set out in the EatWell Guide from the NHS. The guide explains what your body needs on a daily basis to function properly, which foods to find it in, and how much of each food type you need. It’s not always easy to eat the right thing, but if you get into the habit of eating a healthier diet, you will feel the benefits in your condition and your overall well-being.
Download our well-being booklet for more details on nutrition for people with arthritis.