Arthritis affects around 10 million people in the UK. While it affects people of all ages, including children, it is also a common effect of ageing. Rheumatoid arthritis is the second most common type of arthritis, after osteoarthritis.
The associated pain, stiffness and inflammation of the joints can make it difficult for sufferers of the condition to go about their daily activities.
However, it can be improved or prevented by eating the right foods and keeping joints healthy.
“As people get older, it’s common to experience joint discomfort. But what people eat can make a big difference to their joint health, and help to maintain a more active life,” said Polly Douglas, nutritional therapist at Nuffield Health.
Try these diet tips to ease arthritis symptoms and maintain healthy joints.
Foods to boost immunity
“A good place to start is to drink plenty of water,” said Douglas.
Drinking around eight glasses of water a day will help flush toxins from the body and keep joints hydrated.
Eat lots of fruit and vegetables to encourage a healthy immune system, ensuring you eat a variety of colours.
Cherries, blueberries and strawberries are particularly good for joints, according to Douglas, because they contain quercetin, which is a natural anti-inflammatory and antihistamine.
Free-range eggs and free-range chicken are also recommended, as they contain amino acids for a healthy immune system and bone health.
Foods to ease inflammation
Ginger, garlic and turmeric all contain anti-inflammatory properties, and can be added to meals.
Fresh ginger can also be rubbed on painful joints to help reduce swelling.
Foods high in omega-3, such as fish, oils and seeds, also help reduce inflammation.
Foods to strengthen bones
Vitamin C helps to restore the flexible building material collagen, which is the main component of bones, according to Douglas.
It can be found in a wide variety of fruit and vegetables, with good sources including blackcurrants, broccoli and sprouts.
Calcium, meanwhile, helps to strengthen bones by firming their structure, and can be found in milk, cheese and other dairy foods and green leafy vegetables.
Magnesium and vitamin D are also essential for supporting the strength of bones.
Magnesium can be found in green, leafy vegetables, nuts, fish and brown rice, while vitamin D is in milk, eggs, cheese and tuna.
“It’s important to acknowledge that we all age differently, and there are many factors that contribute to our joint health,” said Douglas.
“But finding the right balance of nutrition for our needs can help maintain or even improve our mobility.”