Mediterranean Diet May Ease Arthritis Pain
New studies have shown that a Mediterranean-style diet can help not only heart disease patients, but rheumatoid arthritis sufferers as well. In countries where a Mediterranean type diet is followed, there is a lower rate of rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease. Talk to your health practitioner before starting a diet.
What is a Mediterranean Diet?
Although there are many different countries bordering the Mediterranean sea and diets vary widely, there are some broad characteristics present in most areas. Mediterranean diets are typically high in good fats like fish and olive oil, high in fruits, whole grains, legumes, and vegetables, and low in red meat, animal fats, and processed foods.
Consumption of wine is low to moderate, as well as consumption of eggs, red meat, and dairy.
What are some examples of typically Mediterranean Foods?
- Olive oil
What about Saturated Fat?
Although Mediterranean diets tend to have more fat, it is good fats from fish and olive oil. A typical Mediterranean diet has far less saturated fat than a typical American diet. Monounsaturated fat does not raise cholesterol levels in the blood, unlike saturated fat.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by an autoimmune deficiency. In rheumatoid arthritis, white blood cells become confused and attack the lining of the joints instead of foreign invaders. The symptoms include pain, chronic inflammation, and stiffness in the joints.
What are the health benefits of a Mediterranean Diet?
Since this type of diet is high in antioxidants and healthy fats, it can improve general health and reduce inflammation. After up to six months of following the diet, you should begin to notice less pain, stiffness, and inflammation in your joints. Following this diet may also help lower your cholesterol. The diet may also reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.
How can I get started on a Mediterranean Diet?
Studies show that women with rheumatoid arthritis who attended a hands-on cooking class on Mediterranean cooking were much more likely to increase their intake of healthy fruits, vegetables, and monounsaturated fats than women who simply received written instructions. Therefore, you may want to join a class that teaches nutrition and Mediterranean foods and cooking techniques.
What Else can I do to Protect Myself?
In addition to following a healthy diet, rest, exercise, and joint protection are very important.
- Walking, bicycling, and swimming are all ways to get exercise without putting too much stress on your joints. Exercise improves muscle tone, flexibility, and overall health.
- Protect your joints from further damage by using assisting devices like special kitchen tools and canes or walkers to get around.
- Make sure to get enough rest. You may find it is necessary to rest for short periods during the day. However, getting too much rest can increase pain and stiffness, so make sure you stay active.
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