What you need to know:
- Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis is also associated with low vitamin D in blood. Only few foods are particularly rich in vitamin D and these include oily fish, fortified milk, and orange juice.
Arthritis is a broad term that covers more than 100 diseases. The word arthritis means joint inflammation.
Dr Patrick Senyonjo, of Medik Hospital Kawempe says inflammation is one of your body’s natural reactions to disease and injury.
“Uganda lacks statics about the condition, World Wide the disease affects about one percent of the world’s population and its peak is between 35 and 50 years. Out of 30 million Ugandans about 300,000 have rheumatoid arthritis,” he explains.
Types of arthritis and symptoms
Dr Dan Baluku of Hutchinson Centre Research Institute / Cancer Institute, Mulago says, “The pattern, severity and location of symptoms can vary depending on disease type and symptoms can develop gradually or suddenly,” says Dr Baluku. He explains that there are different types of arthritis, these can be split into three.
● Inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis, an auto-immune condition which affects the immune system and the affected joints could be hands, feet, knees, or shoulders. Main symptoms include pain, stiffness, and loss of strength in the affected joints.
● Non-inflammatory arthritis such as Osteoarthritis, which affects cartilage; a cover to ends of bones that provides a strong and protective layer.
In the affected, the cartilage becomes thin and pitted, leading to pain resulting from bone-to-bone friction. Majorly affected areas are knees, hips, hands, and spine
● Connective tissue diseases such as gout, a metabolic disorder; occurs due to monosodium uric crystals being deposited in the synovial fluid. Can occur as abrupt onset of severe joint inflammation, warmth, swelling, erythema, pain and possibly fever.
Does diet influence arthritis?
There have been some theories over the years about the influence of diet on arthritis, some have been evidenced medically, and some simply reasonable thoughts.
More to that, Dr Baluku says it is important to note that there is no ‘miracle food’ for arthritis, however, some foods can help fight inflammation and improve joint pain and other symptoms.
These foods are deemed helpful
Fish: 100-200grams per week is recommended. It is rich in omega 3, which has shown benefit in rheumatoid arthritis. However, excess of omega-3 has been shown to lower the amount of omega-6 fatty acids, this imbalance may promote inflammation
Nuts and seeds: These have been shown to demonstrate a role in ‘anti-inflammatory’ diet. These include walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios, and almonds
Fruits and vegetables: They contain antioxidants, chemicals that act as the body’s natural defense system, helping to neutralise molecules (free radicals) that can damage cells. Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, and limes are rich in vitamin C. Other foods include; vitamin-K rich veggies such as broccoli, spinach, lettuce and cabbage.
Olive oil: Contains heart-healthy fat as well as oleocanthal, which has similar properties to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
Other recommended foods include beans, pumpkin, avocado, whole grain, night shade vegetables such as eggplant, tomatoes, pepper and potatoes.
Vitamin D: Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis is also associated with low vitamin D in blood. Only few foods are particularly rich in vitamin D and these include oily fish, fortified milk, and orange juice. Supplementary vitamin D may also be advised, however, Dr Baluku says these should be taken only when recommended by a doctor.