Arthritis can affect any joint in the body, including the weight-bearing joints in the feet and ankles. Arthritis is distinct in that it causes chronic inflammation, which slowly erodes the protective cartilage over the joints.
There are some studies that show the relationship between diet and the body’s inflammation levels. In other words, the food you eat can have an inflammatory effect. If you have arthritis, you do not want to cause more inflammation in your body.
One proactive way to manage foot arthritis is to make changes to your diet by eating foods that lower inflammation and provide nutrients to your bones, joints, and soft tissues.
The Relationship Between Diet and Arthritis
Studies show that inflammation is associated with the risk of cartilage loss and the development of joint pain and swelling in osteoarthritis patients.
Osteoarthritis-related inflammation usually begins in the synovial tissue, which is responsible for the lubrication of the joints. It is the chronic, low-grade inflammation that slowly advances the stage of the disease. The cartilage slowly wears away, and the joint degenerates, which is distinctly arthritis.
Some foods can trigger and increase inflammation in the body. In contrast, other foods have an anti-inflammatory effect, which can support joint health.
Dietary Changes to Alleviate Inflammation
If you consult a doctor for arthritis, you will likely receive lifestyle and dietary recommendations. Some of the features of an anti-inflammatory diet include the following:
Researchers have found that this cruciferous vegetable contains high levels of sulforaphane, a compound known for blocking the inflammatory process in the body. It also provides vitamins C and K, which are critical for cartilage health, altogether helping slow the progression of arthritis.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are known to have anti-inflammatory properties and can be beneficial for individuals with arthritis. You can get Omega-3 fatty acids from foods such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, tuna, and herring. Flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts are also rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.
Protein supports the maintenance and repair of cartilage and helps build and strengthen muscles around the joints. Good sources of lean protein include chicken breast and turkey. There are also plant-based proteins such as beans and tofu.
Peanuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, and pistachios are good sources of protein, as are dairy products and eggs. However, animal-based protein needs to be limited, as it can also lead to inflammation if your diet consists heavily of it.
Elimination of Processed Foods
Processed foods are high in sugar, unhealthy fats, and preservatives, which can worsen inflammation in the body. Highly processed foods are canned, significantly altered during preparation, or ready-to-eat or microwavable.
Minimally processed foods such as whole wheat bread, pre-cut vegetables, and cheese can be part of a healthy diet. Limit your consumption of processed foods and focus on whole foods.
More Vitamin D
Research suggests that individuals with inadequate vitamin D intake may experience a faster progression of osteoarthritis. About 2,000 IUs of vitamin D per day is usually recommended for individuals with arthritis. Foods high in vitamin D include fortified milk and oily fish. Spending a few minutes in the sun can also help boost vitamin D levels.
While milk can benefit some, others may be sensitive to it or experience higher levels of inflammation due to it. Consult your doctor before adding milk to your diet. Yogurt on the other hand has been associated with decreased inflammation and is a good source of vitamin D.
Gluten sensitivity can also contribute to inflammation. Studies have found that eliminating gluten from the diet can improve arthritis symptoms in some individuals. Gluten-containing foods include wheat, barley and rye. Quinoa and rice are gluten-free.
Turmeric is a spice that has shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. Adding this spice to your dishes can be a great way to manage inflammation caused by foot arthritis. Turmeric-rich foods include curry and golden milk. The spice also lends itself well to rice, meat, and fish meals. If you cook, look for recipes that contain turmeric.
Drink Green Tea
Green tea is known for its antioxidant properties. The polyphenols found in green tea, such as catechins and EGCG, are powerful anti-inflammatory agents, and the extracts have demonstrated potential in preserving cartilage through inhibition of enzymes that cause its breakdown.
To find out if your diet is working, observe your symptoms. If you are experiencing no difference, you may need to cut certain foods from your diet. A nutritionist/dietitian can help tailor your diet to meet your needs and suggest more arthritis-friendly alternatives.
Foot Arthritis Treatment in Cincinnati, OH
The foot and ankle doctors at Cincinnati Foot & Ankle Care provide comprehensive care for individuals with foot arthritis. We are highly experienced in treating this condition and offer highly individualized recommendations to meet patients’ goals and improve their symptoms and quality of life.