Arthritis is behind the majority of joint pain complaints around the world. Health experts warn against eating foods containing additives or chemicals, as these are known to induce inflammation. According to some health bodies, some oils used in everyday cooking could be harmful too.
Pain for arthritic patients is often concentrated in the knees because they’re subjected to heavy weight-bearing.
This pain can become debilitating over time, which eventually may limit movement and threaten mobility altogether.
But certain foods may speed up this process, by activating the body’s immune system.
Some foods can alter the bacteria that live in the gut, and in doing so promote inflammation – one of the hallmarks of arthritis.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, oils such as corn, safflower, sunflower and vegetable oil are some surprising foods responsible for such inflammation.
Other sources of omega-6 include meats such as chicken, pork and beef, although some grass-fed beef is also a good source of Omega-3s.
“Omega 6 fatty acids are not harmful in moderation, but many people in America consume a lot of them,” explains Medical News Today.
Overconsumption of omega 6 also has associations with high blood pressure, which could heighten the risk of stroke and heart attack.
But just as some omega compounds promote inflammation, others such as omega-3 fatty acids are able to lower it.
The website Arthritis Health writes: “Health experts believe omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids compete for bodily absorption because they both require the same enzyme for digestion.
“So even if you are eating enough omega-3 fatty acids, the omega-6 fatty acids you eat may elbow out the omega-3 during digestion, and you may not derive the omega 3’s full anti-inflammatory benefits.”
This was illustrated in one clinical study which looked at the blood samples of 167 adults with knee arthritis.
Researchers measured ratios of omega 3 to omega 6 in their blood, which they compared with knee pain and function in participants who had high or low ratios of each compound.
The results revealed that those with higher amounts of omega in their blood had less arthritic pain, and better knee function overall.
How to avoid arthritis
Research has long highlighted the link between chronic inflammation and saturated fats found in red meats, full-fat dairy, butter and the skin of poultry.
Other foods known to promote painful inflammation include processed foods because they demonstrate inflammatory markers like interleukin-6 and C-reactive protein and homocysteine.
Arthritis Health suggests that some items such as french fries are particularly harmful, and should be swapped out for foods like baked potatoes when possible.
Maximising intake of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients can help prevent inflammation, according to the NHS.
“Change the type of fats and oils you eat and include oily fish and olive or rapeseed oil. Eat a more Mediterranean-style diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables,” adds the health body.
Regular exercise is also vital for prevention, as it can reduce the strain on the joints.