7 Best and Worst Foods for Relief
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a chronic inflammatory condition that primarily affects the spine and sacroiliac joints, causing pain, stiffness and reduced mobility. While there's no definitive diet that can cure or entirely manage the symptoms of AS, certain foods can either support or exacerbate the condition. In this article, we'll explore the seven best and worst foods for ankylosing spondylitis, along with some information about available treatments.
The Best Foods for Ankylosing Spondylitis
1. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties. These fatty acids can help reduce inflammation in the body and may provide relief for AS sufferers.
Turmeric contains curcumin, a compound known for its potent anti-inflammatory effects. Incorporating turmeric into your diet, whether in cooking or through supplements, might help manage inflammation associated with AS.
3. Colorful Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants, such as berries, cherries, spinach and kale, can help combat inflammation. These foods also provide essential vitamins and minerals that support overall health.
4. Whole Grains
Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa and whole wheat are rich in fiber and can contribute to better gut health. A healthy gut microbiome has been linked to reduced inflammation and improved immune function.
Ginger has natural anti-inflammatory properties and might help alleviate pain and stiffness associated with AS. Incorporate ginger into your diet through teas, smoothies or cooking.
6. Olive Oil
Olive oil contains healthy monounsaturated fats and antioxidants that can have anti-inflammatory effects. It's a good choice for cooking and dressing salads.
Probiotics, found in foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi, can help maintain a healthy gut microbiome. A balanced gut microbiome has been linked to reduced inflammation and better immune system regulation.
The Worst Foods for Ankylosing Spondylitis
1. Processed Foods
Processed foods often contain high levels of refined sugars, unhealthy fats and additives that can trigger inflammation. These foods can worsen the symptoms of AS and should be avoided or consumed in moderation.
Excess sugar consumption can lead to weight gain and inflammation. Sugary foods and beverages should be limited, as they may exacerbate AS symptoms.
3. Saturated and Trans Fats
Foods high in saturated and trans fats, such as fried foods and commercially baked goods, can contribute to inflammation and heart health issues. Opt for healthier fats like those found in avocados, nuts and seeds.
4. Nightshade Vegetables
Some individuals with AS report sensitivity to nightshade vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and potatoes. These vegetables contain a compound called solanine, which might contribute to inflammation in some cases.
Some AS patients may benefit from reducing or eliminating gluten from their diet. Gluten is found in wheat, barley and rye, and some individuals might experience improved symptoms by avoiding these grains.
Alcohol can interfere with the effectiveness of medications, increase inflammation and disrupt sleep patterns. If you choose to consume alcohol, do so in moderation.
7. Highly Processed Meats
Meats like hot dogs, sausages and bacon often contain high levels of preservatives and additives that can trigger inflammation. Opt for lean, unprocessed cuts of meat or plant-based protein sources.
Treatments for Ankylosing Spondylitis
While there's no cure for AS, various treatment approaches can help manage symptoms and improve the quality of life for those affected. Here are some common treatment approaches.
- Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen can help reduce pain and inflammation associated with AS. They are often used as first-line treatments to manage mild to moderate symptoms.
- Humira (adalimumab): Humira is a type of biologic medication that targets and neutralizes a specific protein in the body's immune system that contributes to inflammation. It can help reduce pain, stiffness and swelling in AS patients.
- Remicade (infliximab): Remicade is another biologic medication that can effectively reduce inflammation in AS by targeting and inhibiting a specific protein. It's administered through intravenous infusion and can provide relief for some patients.
- Rinvoq (upadacitinib): Rinvoq is a Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor that works by targeting enzymes involved in the inflammatory process. It can help alleviate AS symptoms by reducing inflammation in the body.
- Corticosteroids: In some cases, corticosteroid injections or oral corticosteroids may be used to provide short-term relief from inflammation and pain. However, long-term use of corticosteroids is generally avoided due to potential side effects.
Physical Therapy and Exercise
Regular physical activity and targeted exercises can improve flexibility, strengthen muscles and maintain joint mobility. A physical therapist can design a personalized exercise program that suits your needs and limitations.
Heat and Cold Therapy
Applying heat or cold to affected areas can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. Heat therapy can relax muscles and improve blood flow, while cold therapy can numb the area and reduce swelling.
In severe cases where AS has led to significant joint damage and disability, surgery might be considered. Joint replacement surgeries, particularly for the hips and knees, can improve mobility and reduce pain.
While there's no one-size-fits-all approach to managing ankylosing spondylitis, a balanced and anti-inflammatory diet can play a significant role in improving symptoms and overall well-being. Remember that individual responses to foods and medications can vary, so it's essential to tailor your approach to your specific needs and consult with a healthcare professional before making any significant changes to your diet or treatment plan.
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