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Will changing what I eat affect my arthritis?

Key Diet Changes for Osteoarthritis

A healthy diet for people who have osteoarthritis is the same as for everyone else.

  • Eat a balanced diet that includes at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Eat more whole grains and fewer white flour products.
  • Lower your intake of saturated fats, such as those found in whole milk dairy products, fatty red meats, or fried foods. Switch to olive or canola oil, which are better for your heart health.
  • Include protein in your diet but try to limit your intake to no more than 6 ounces daily. Refer to the USDA food pyramid for dietary guidelines.

A wide range of foods have been linked to arthritis symptoms and flares. These include vegetables such as tomatoes and eggplant and food additives such as MSG and nitrate. Unfortunately, research has not proven that eliminating any of these from the diet can help arthritis. Yet, what you eat can affect your arthritis in ways that you might not have thought of. Being overweight places significant pressure on weight-bearing joints, such as the knee and hip. In middle age or later, being overweight increases the risk for developing osteoarthritis in the knee. It also increases the risk for developing it in your hands and wrists. Overweight people often start to develop osteoarthritis in the knee 8 to 12 years before symptoms occur. That's why if you're overweight you need a plan to help you lose weight. Or, if you're at a healthy weight for your height, you need an eating plan to ensure that you don't put on any extra pounds as you grow older.

Everyone has different needs, so it's important that you speak to members of your arthritis treatment team before you make any changes in your diet.

To learn more about how to eat a balanced diet, see 10 Ways to Eat Healthier.