Nutrition and Arthritis

Nutrition and Arthritis

What is arthritis?

Arthritis is used to describe joint pain or joint disease. According to the Arthritis Foundation, there are over 100 different types of arthritis affecting 1 in 5 people over the age of 18, and 1 in 250 babies and children. Symptoms of arthritis include joint swelling, pain and stiffness that lead to a reduced range of motion. Some forms of arthritis cause pain that comes and goes, while others result in pain that worsens over time. Arthritis can make it difficult to perform daily activities and regular exercise.

How can food influence arthritis?

Arthritis is linked to inflammation, and research has shown that some foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants may combat inflammation and reduce some symptoms of arthritis. Similarly, other foods have been found to cause inflammation and should be limited for those with arthritis. These include foods with high amounts of saturated fat, trans fats, and refined carbohydrates. Additionally, some medications for arthritis cause the body to retain more sodium, so paying special attention to sodium intake is important as a way to prevent an unhealthy rise in blood pressure.

What foods have been found to reduce the symptoms of arthritis?

The painful symptoms of arthritis can be reduced by basing your diet on anti-inflammatory foods. Antioxidants are key players making fruits and vegetables an important part of an anti-inflammatory diet. While most fruits and vegetables have unique nutrients that can be beneficial, focus on those with vitamin C, beta-carotene, and anthocyanins. Bell peppers, strawberries, citrus, broccoli, and kale provide vitamin C. Sweet potatoes, mustard greens, turnip greens, apricots, and carrots are rich in beta-carotene. Anthocyanins are found in blackberries, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, and red onions.

Reduce saturated and trans fats, and focus on incorporating more foods with hearty-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon, sardines, anchovies, trout, chia seeds, and walnuts are all sources for omega-3s.

Research also shows that spices have anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, or cloves can be stirred into yogurt, blended into smoothies, and sprinkled over oatmeal or stir-fried vegetables.

Creamy Pasta with Summer Squash

Creamy Pasta with Summer Squash Recipe

Pastas with creamy sauces are satisfying, but they are also loaded with calories and saturated fat. By using part-skim ricotta cheese and seasonal vegetables, you can create a healthier meal that mimics traditional favorites.

Yield: 4 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes


1 tbsp olive oil

1/3 cup diced onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 ½ cups sliced zucchini

3 cups cooked whole wheat pasta (like linguine)

¾ cup part skim ricotta cheese

1 tsp lemon zest

¼ tsp ground black pepper

2 tsp chopped fresh basil


Heat the oil over medium-high in a large, deep skillet. Add the onion and garlic, and cook for 3 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring often, for 7 to 10 more minutes, until the zucchini is slightly tender.

Reduce the heat to low and stir in the cooked pasta. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the ricotta, lemon zest, and black pepper. Sprinkle with the fresh basil and serve.

Nutrition information for 1 serving: Calories 245; Total Fat 8.5 g; Saturated Fat 3.5 g; Trans Fat 0 g; Cholesterol 22 mg; Sodium 278 mg; Carbohydrate 35.5 g; Fiber 5.9 g; Sugar 4.1 g; Protein 10.7 g

5 Popular Diet Terms Defined

Raw food diet

Raw food diet

A raw food diet is based on the belief that heating food damages valuable nutrients. As a result, the eating plan includes consuming foods that have not been heated above 118 degrees Fahrenheit. The diet is largely composed of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Some dehydrated or dried foods also meet the raw food criteria depending on the dehydration process.

The basis of the raw food diet is somewhat controversial. While some nutrients may be destroyed when foods are heated, others are enhanced and made more available to the body.

Clean eating

Clean eating is often used to describe a diet of more whole foods in their natural form and fewer packaged, processed foods. It is not an eating plan with strict guidelines but more of an approach to eating that influences your food choices. For example, clean eating means you choose grilled fresh fish over battered frozen fish and whole fresh fruits versus canned fruits in syrup. By eating clean, you can increase nutrients while reducing your intake of excess calories, fat, sodium, and sugar found in processed foods.


Flexitarian is used to describe a person who eats a heavily plant-based diet, but includes meat and other animal products from time to time. A flexitarian style of eating closely resembles a vegetarian diet by being rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains, but occasionally a flexitarian may choose to eat fish, poultry, pork, or red meat.


The Paleo diet resembles what was likely eaten during the Paleolithic era, when our ancestors were hunters and gatherers. The diet is based on the belief that chronic disease is associated with eating foods like grains, legumes, and dairy. Therefore, it is largely made up of meat, poultry, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. The exact eating plan can vary from person to person, but sugar and sodium intake are limited because the Paleo diet does not allow processed or pre-made foods.


A gluten-free diet contains no wheat products. Gluten is a protein found in wheat that must be avoided by those with celiac disease. When people with the disease eat gluten, their bodies produce antibodies that damage the lining of the small intestines, reducing the absorption of nutrients. Rye and barley are two additional grains that contain proteins similar to gluten and must also be avoided. A gluten-free diet contains fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, beans, unprocessed nuts, unprocessed meats without breading, and gluten-free grains.

Importance of Balance Training

Importance of Balance Training

Balance is one of the four components of fitness along with cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility. Good balance is essential for all types of movement. Research shows that balance exercises can help reduce falls and fall-related injuries as we age. Studies also show that balance training may reduce ankle injuries.

Unlike cardio and strength training, there are no specific guidelines for balance training. The American Heart Association recommends that older adults that are at risk for falls perform balance training three or more days per week, but balance training is beneficial to all age groups and fitness levels. The American College of Sports Medicine classifies balance exercises under the term functional fitness training or neuromotor exercise and recommends incorporating the training two to three days per week.

Balance training doesn’t have to be an isolated form of exercise. Because it plays a role in other parts of your workout, you can easily incorporate it into your regular exercise routine. Try standing on one foot while you perform shoulder presses or arm curls. Single leg squats or squats that move to a leg lift will also put the focus on balance. Try to perform a quadriceps stretch without holding the wall or a chair. Additionally, Tai Chi and yoga are forms of mind-body exercise that target strength, flexibility, and balance.

Foam rollers, balance boards, and stability balls are examples of equipment that is often designed specifically for balance training. If these tools are of interest to you, consider consulting a trainer or an instructional guide to ensure you use them safely and effectively.

Improving your balance can also take place outside the gym. Standing on one leg while folding laundry or brushing your teeth are easy ways to squeeze in training. When out for a walk, try walking a beam, the curb, or even a line on the ground to challenge your balance.

Aim to incorporate some type of balance training into your workouts a few times each week. Additionally, stay mindful of balance throughout your daily activities. The more you focus on balance, the more aware you will become of how it influences movement and your progress as you work to improve it.

Summer Melon Salad

Summer Melon Salad Recipe

Melon contains few calories and it is rich in vitamins A and C. It also has a high water content, which helps to keep you hydrated. This salad is a sweet and salty combination of fresh melon and crumbled feta cheese. It makes an easy breakfast, or serve it as a side dish at your next picnic.

Yield: 6 servings

Preparation time: 20 minutes


2 cups diced cantaloupe

2 cups diced honeydew melon

2 green onions, sliced

2 tsp chopped fresh basil

1/8 tsp ground black pepper

2 tbsp crumbled feta cheese


Place the cantaloupe and honeydew melon in a bowl. Add the onions, basil and black pepper, and stir well.

Sprinkle with the feta cheese just before serving.

Nutrition information for 1 serving: Calories 48; Total Fat 0.9 g; Saturated Fat 0.5 g; Trans Fat 0 g; Cholesterol 3 mg; Sodium 54 mg; Carbohydrate 9.9 g; Fiber 1.1 g; Sugar 9.0 g; Protein 1.3 g

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