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There is a good chance you have heard of “Arthritis”. You likely know someone that has it,
or even have it yourself.
“Osteo”, “Rheumatoid” or “Gout” are the common-all-garden varieties or perhaps just plain old sore knees.
The term arthritis loosely translates to ‘inflammation of the joints’. Generally, this means pain. Dietitians can help people who live with the pain associated with arthritis.
Prioritising nutrition and even enjoying food when you have been living with pain for a long time can be difficult; particularly when the type of arthritis, medication, the person’s age, sex and activity level will affect their nutritional requirements.
If you suspect you may have an arthritic condition, a blood test organised through your Doctor will be a good place to start. Your iron profile, folate and vitamin D status would provide useful information, as would asking questions around bone mineral density.
Medications prescribed by your Doctor and physical rehabilitation prescribed by your Physiotherapist are important starting points for treatment. But knowing how amazing food is, it would be nice to think that certain types could help reduce pain too.
Sardines are one of the most underrated foods of all time, as are salmon and tuna.
Calcium and vitamin D are both important for maintaining strong bones. Considering those with arthritis may have an increased risk of developing osteoporosis (brittle bones) it makes sense to think about calcium and vitamin D. The best sources of calcium are dairy products and fish that are eaten with the bones e.g. tinned sardines or salmon. Greek yogurt also gets a special shout out because of the protein content and probiotics (healthy bacteria).
Many New Zealanders don’t get enough vitamin D, particularly during our winter months. Vitamin D helps our bodies absorb calcium. If you don’t see the sun much, have dark skin, avoid dairy products and other calcium-rich foods, then a supplement may help. Consult a Dietitian for recommended doses as the saying “too much of a good thing” applies to both calcium and vitamin D.
From a mechanical perspective, reducing pressure on joints can help people move more freely. This means decreasing your body weight, which may be a valid consideration for some. Certain medications and some secondary symptoms associated with long term pain can make weight loss hard, consulting a Dietitian to support your weight loss journey may help.
Blanket recommendations are not particularly useful as every person responds differently to medication, exercise and food. Being aware of your own response to treatments is critical. Eating nutritious food helps fuel your mind and body. Moving your body as suggested by your physiotherapist will improve your mobility. The combination of good food and movement will support weight maintenance, which will reduce pressure on your joints, and therefore improve pain.
Increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables, eating minimally processed carbohydrates, including healthy oils and moving your body in the sun will surely improve your general health and likely your arthritic condition as well.
Baked Salmon and Rainbow salad
Preheat oven to 220°C and line your oven tray with baking paper.
Place salmon fillets (skin-side-down) on prepared tray. Add crushed garlic, ginger and lemon slices to salmon. Bake for 7-10 minutes or until salmon is cooked to your liking.
Add salad ingredients together. Add dressing and toss.
Dish up - Serves 2