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The Best Nut to Eat for Rheumatoid Arthritis

There’s little doubt that what you eat plays a role in inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. Here’s one nut for arthritis that may help relieve some of the symptoms.

Rheumatoid arthritis affects more than two million people in the United States – causing pain and joint discomfort which can make even casual activities very unpleasant. Most people with rheumatoid arthritis take prescription medications such as anti-inflammatory medications to relieve the pain which can lead to significant side effects. While prescription medications are needed in some cases, an anti-inflammatory diet also plays a role in subduing the symptoms of this common disease. One type of food that may help in the fight against rheumatoid are nuts – particularly walnuts.   

Why the Walnut?

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease where the body essentially attacks its own tissue – particularly the joints where it causes considerable pain and inflammation.

What type of diet helps to fan the fires of inflammation and provide some relief to rheumatoid arthritis sufferers? You’ve probably been told to eat more nuts – and for good reason. Many nuts have anti-inflammatory properties because of the good fats they contain, including brazil nuts and almonds, but if you can choose just one nut for arthritis – make it the walnut.

The Best Nut for Arthritis?

Why is the walnut the king of anti-inflammatory nuts? Walnuts are a rich source of alpha-linolenic-acid or ALA which is the precursor to the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. The body converts the ALA found in walnuts to EPA and DHA – two omega-3 fatty acids that help to calm the inflammation that rheumatoid arthritis sufferers experience on a daily basis. One study showed that eating only four walnuts a day was enough to increase blood levels of omega-3’s – and most people can manage that.

Anti-inflammatory Nuts: How Do the Omega-3’s Reduce Inflammation?

Omega-3’s alter the synthesis of prostaglandins that cause inflammation, and tissue destruction and stimulate production of ant-inflammatory compounds that reduce pain and swelling. They essentially serve as natural ant-inflammatory compounds – without the serious side effects. Taking omega-3’s in supplement form can be a problem for people on blood thinners and aspirin since they alter platelet function, but getting omega-3 precursors naturally through anti-inflammatory nuts such as walnuts is a safe way to get their benefits.

Anti-inflammatory Nuts: Other Foods That May Help Rheumatoid Arthritis

Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines are rich in omega-3’s, EPA and DHA, and they have the advantage that they don’t have to be converted by the body as the ALA in walnuts does. Flaxseed is another good nut for arthritis since it’s rich in ALA, but needs to be ground before being eaten so the body can absorb it. Eating foods that are rich in omega-3’s and reducing omega-6 fatty acids such as corn oil and soybean oil in the diet helps the body convert to an anti-inflammatory mode to help relieve the pain and discomfort of rheumatoid. Don’t forget about eating more fruits and veggies – particularly ones that are high in vitamin C – an antioxidant vitamin which plays an important role in joint health.

Nuts for Arthritis: The Bottom Line?

Eat more walnuts if you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and take steps to add more omega-3’s to your diet, while reducing the amount of omega-6’s from sources such as corn oil. Do it consistently and you could notice an improvement in your symptoms in as little as six weeks.

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