Did you know that by 2040, it’s estimated 78 million Americans 18 years or older will have some form of arthritis? That’s an astonishing amount of people that a trusted Riverside arthritis doctor can help prevent you from being a part of.
The truth is, there is no magic diet that is going to make your arthritis disappear forever — whether it’s osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or another form. But, here’s the good news: If you’re realistic about your goals, paying attention to your diet can greatly ease your symptoms.
Osteoarthritis (OA) and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Differences
There are many variables between these two common forms of arthritis, but an easy way to think of the main difference between RA and OA is this: rheumatoid arthritis is about inflammation of the tissue around the joints—osteoarthritis is about deterioration of the cartilage between the joints. Of course, there are other differences between rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis that can go into great detail.
One of the main similarities is they can both impact your spine. Following are a few more differences.
First and foremost, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, and is not associated with the wear and tear of joints. This type of disorder occurs when your body’s immune system turns against itself—attacking your body’s healthy tissues when it should be protecting them. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) complications are known for affecting all parts of the body, not just the joints. The same inflammatory processes that cause joints to hurt and become damaged also cause problems to the eyes, lungs, skin, heart, blood vessels and more.
Ongoing RA inflammation can destroy the joint cartilage and bone around affected joints. Severe cartilage loss eventually leads to bones becoming deformed. Deformities make it hard to use an affected joint and may eventually lead to disability. RA joint damage is usually irreversible and while many patients experience flares followed by periods of remission, sometimes the disease gets steadily more serious.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and is sometimes referred to as “wear-and-tear arthritis”. Other names include degenerative joint disease, degenerative arthritis, DJD, and osteoarthrosis. It develops when cartilage, the flexible tissue that allows bones in a joint to glide over each other, breaks down and usually begins in an isolated joint. When your cartilage begins to wear away, you lose that barrier between the bones of your joints. So your bones then can rub onto one another, which can be very painful.
Osteoarthritis causes pain, stiffness, and swelling of the affected joints. While it is most common among adults over age 65, people of any age can develop it. Women are two to three times more likely to be affected after the age of 45, and men are more likely to be affected before the age of 45.
The Ultimate Arthritis Diet
A carefully thought out diet high in nutrients is a great place to start, and many foods can help fight inflammation and improve joint symptoms. It’s also important to remember that consistency and thinking long-term is key. If you know you won’t stick to a new way of eating for the long-haul, find ways of healthy eating that you will confidently commit to.
There’s a well-established relationship between obesity and pain, so diet plays a key part in preventing and managing arthritis symptoms. A low-calorie Mediterranean diet high in Omega 3 fatty acids and low in Omega-6 fatty acids has proven one of the best habits of health for those suffering with arthritis.
Studies confirm that eating foods commonly part of the Mediterranean diet can do the following:
• Lower blood pressure
• Protect against chronic conditions, ranging from cancer to stroke
• Help arthritis by curbing inflammation
• Benefit your joints as well as your heart
• Lead to weight loss, which can lessen joint pain
The Mediterranean diet consists primarily of the following:
• Nuts & Seeds
• Olive Oil
• Fruits & Veggies
• Whole Grains
• Nightshade Vegetables
A recent study compared diet and exercise with diet alone and exercise alone in lowering the stress on the knees in people with obesity and osteoarthritis. Diet and exercise combined yielded the best results — so your best bet is to work with your doctor to develop a diet plan and an exercise routine that takes your condition and potential limitations into account.