Links between diet and arthritis

Research is still being carried out into the possible link between diet and arthritis, but it is increasingly thought that certain foods can play a part in reducing pain and inflammation, and help slow the progression of arthritis. 

Getting the balance right

Following a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly can help us to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, boost our energy levels and improve our mood.

This is particularly important for people with arthritis, who can be at a slightly greater risk of developing certain other conditions, such as heart disease, or who may need to take long-term medication that can have adverse side effects.

Allergies and food intolerance

A food allergy is a potentially serious reaction by your immune system. Symptoms can come on suddenly, and include swelling of the lips, mouth or tongue, as well as a rash, wheezing or itching.

In the UK, around one or two people in every 100 have some kind of food allergy. Food intolerance is much more common. Symptoms can include stomach cramps or bloating, which come on more slowly over time. Some people with inflammatory arthritis believe they might be allergic to certain foods, and that this causes their arthritis to flare. This could be the case, but many people mistake food intolerance for food allergy. The only way to find out if you have a food intolerance is to follow an elimination diet.

Elimination diets

An elimination diet involves excluding certain foods from your diet for about a month, before re-introducing them one by one, while monitoring any reaction. This may work for some people with inflammatory arthritis, although it will not be effective for those with osteoarthritis.