Helping Keep your Arthritis at Bay
There are many reasons to eat healthy foods. A well-balanced diet low in fatty meats is good for the heart, prevents obesity, and curbs the development of chronic diseases like diabetes. However, for people with psoriatic arthritis, the right foods can mean the difference between mobility and painful joint swelling.
What is Psoriatic Arthritis?
The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases mentions psoriatic arthritis as a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease affecting the joints and the tendons and ligaments that attach to bones. Most people diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis already have the skin disease psoriasis. In a small fraction of individuals, however, psoriatic arthritis pain occurs before skin rash symptoms develop.
Symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis
Psoriatic arthritis symptoms develop when a person’s immune system becomes overactive and creates chronic swelling in the joint areas. Research indicates that psoriatic arthritis may have a genetic component, with about 10 percent of the general population having one or more genes that may predispose them to psoriasis. The disease is difficult to diagnose because the symptoms and affected areas differ from person to person. Symptoms of psoriatic arthritis include:
- Tenderness and pain over joints and tendons.
- Stiffness and throbbing in joints.
- Swollen fingers and toes.
- Pitting of fingernails or toenails.
- Redness in the eyes.
- Skin rashes associated with psoriasis.
Although there’s no cure for psoriatic arthritis, early detection and treatment result in better outcomes. Furthermore, lifestyle changes can reduce psoriatic arthritis symptoms and improve mobility.
Four Foods to Add to Your Psoriatic Arthritis Diet
The food a person eats may impact psoriatic arthritis symptoms, helping to inflame or reduce swelling and pain depending on what a person consumes. Knowing what to eat and which foods to avoid can help manage psoriatic arthritis symptoms. The following are five foods proven to reduce psoriatic arthritis flare-ups.
1. High-fiber Foods
Research suggests a link exists between insulin resistance, obesity, and long-term inflammatory diseases like psoriatic arthritis. Obesity is a risk factor for psoriatic arthritis, and chronic blood sugar problems are known to be associated with obesity and insulin resistance. Therefore, maintaining a healthy weight by regulating blood sugar is essential for managing psoriatic arthritis symptoms.
A diet high in processed foods leads to unbalanced blood sugar levels and a higher risk for obesity. Therefore, unprocessed whole grains are an excellent alternative to low-fiber processed products. Whole grain foods are high in fiber and help to stabilize blood sugar. A few examples of unprocessed whole grains are:
- Brown rice.
- Wild rice.
- Whole oats.
As a preventive measure, controlling blood sugar keeps psoriatic arthritis at bay. However, stable blood sugar levels help to reduce symptoms for people who are already diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis.
2. Fatty Fish
Much of the pain involved with psoriatic arthritis stems from the inflammation within joint tissues. Studies show that consuming fish high in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) can reduce psoriatic arthritis symptoms. For example, one study involving 145 participants diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis evaluated the results of a 24-week-long supplementation period of omega-3 PUFA. The results showed a reduction in the following:
- Joint redness.
- Pain-reliever use.
Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and Atlantic mackerel are all high in omega-3 fatty acids. A diet that incorporates fatty fish, high-fiber foods, and other healthy choices can go a long way in addressing psoriatic arthritis symptoms.
3. Nuts and Seeds
Vegetarians or people looking to supplement their omega-3 intake can look to nuts and seeds. These types of foods contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is a type of anti-inflammatory omega-3. Nuts and seeds are also high in I-arginine, vitamin E, and magnesium, which all help to keep inflammation in check. The best nuts and seeds for psoriatic arthritis are:
- Chia seeds.
- Hemp seeds.
One thing to keep in mind is that nuts and seeds are not just nutrient-dense, but they’re also calorie-dense. One or two servings a day are all it takes to help alleviate psoriatic arthritis symptoms.
4. Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Everyone knows that fresh fruits and vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet. However, for people with psoriatic arthritis, these foods reduce the symptoms. Replacing processed foods with fresh fruits and veggies helps to suppress inflammation. According to the Arthritis Foundation, foods high in antioxidants target the free radicals that can worsen inflammation.
Free radicals are substances that damage the body’s cells, triggering diseases. Antioxidants target free radicals and counter their effect on the body. A diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables helps reduce psoriatic arthritis symptoms and prevents other diseases in the body.
Foods to Avoid if You Have Psoriatic Arthritis
For a psoriatic arthritis diet to work at its best, avoid foods that worsen symptoms. For example, some people with psoriatic arthritis find that consuming dairy products can aggravate their symptoms. Because of this effect, the consumption of milk and other dairy products should be kept at a minimum.
Fatty meats are another food group to avoid when diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. Processed fatty meats, like bacon, are especially problematic for people with arthritis. These meats contain harmful compounds that cause inflammation and chronic diseases. To keep pain and swelling from psoriatic arthritis in check, people diagnosed with the disease may want to reduce their intake of fatty meats.
Managing Psoriatic Arthritis
There’s no cure for psoriatic arthritis, but there are ways to manage symptoms. Eating a well-balanced diet that keeps triggers at bay is just one approach. Living with psoriatic arthritis also requires proper exercise to keep joints mobile. Seeing a health professional for treatment can also prevent the worsening of symptoms and improve a person’s quality of life.
- Psoriatic Arthritis
- Psoriatic Disease and the Immune System
- Dietary Recommendations for Adults With Psoriasis or Psoriatic Arthritis From the Medical Board of the National Psoriasis Foundation
- B Lymphocytes in obesity related adipose tissue inflammation and insulin resistance
- Beneficial effect of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on inflammation and analgesic use in psoriatic arthritis
- Role of advanced glycation end products in mobility and considerations in possible dietary and nutritional intervention strategies