Most Beneficial Ankylosing Spondylitis Diet
While many people follow special diets to alleviate symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis, there is no dietary cure-all. Unscientifically founded or fraudulent diets can be detrimental to your health. Check with your doctor before starting a diet that sounds drastic or too good to be true.
A diet rich in vitamins and nutrients provides great benefit to your overall health. Certain foods can help cut down bouts of inflammation, while others can exacerbate it. Click through to find out which foods are the biggest culprits or the most beneficial.
Some evidence suggests that omega-3 supplements may reduce disease activity in people with ankylosing spondylitis. Try to get at least one source of omega-3 fatty acids each day.
Foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids include:
- flax seeds
- soybean, canola, and flaxseed oil
- Brussels sprouts, kale, spinach, and salad greens
- cold water fish, including salmon and tuna
Fruits and Veggies
Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is a great way to get most of the vitamins and minerals your body needs to stay strong and healthy. Fruits and vegetables are a healthy alternative to packaged snacks that provide many calories with little or no nutritional value. Try to include fresh produce in every meal.
Whole Foods and Grains
Whole foods and grains are high in fiber and are thought to decrease inflammation. However, whole grain foods can trigger symptoms in some people with arthritis. If you're not sure, try keeping a food diary to determine if whole grains cause a flare-up. If not, add some whole grain foods to your daily diet.
Sugar, Sodium, and Fat
Highly processed foods, and those that are high in sugar and fat may cause inflammation. A good rule of thumb is that cooking at home is generally healthier than eating out. Limit foods that come in boxes, bags, and cans. Read labels and avoid foods that contain too may extra ingredients that your body doesn't need, such as:
- added sugars
- high sodium content
- saturated fats
- trans fats
If your diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains, you are less likely to require dietary supplements. However, if you’re lacking nutrients, you may benefit from an extra boost. Just be aware that some supplement manufacturers make claims that may not be true. Talk to your doctor to discover which, if any, supplements might be useful for you, and to be sure that they don’t interfere with any medications you’re taking. According to the Spondylitis Association of America, research shows that patients who take folic acid or folinic acid supplements and methotrexate, a drug to treat arthritis, are less likely to have liver damage than those taking methotrexate alone.
Limit or Avoid Alcohol
Limit your alcohol intake or avoid it altogether. Alcohol can interfere with or interact with medications, making them ineffective or even dangerous. Excessive amounts of alcohol can damage your liver, the lining of your small intestine, and your stomach. This can make it hard for your body to digest nutrients and can interfere with your ability to absorb and store some vitamins.
Protect Your Gut Lining
Many people with arthritis take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which can cause damage to your gut lining. Bananas and active- or live-culture yogurt taken with the medication may help protect your gut lining. Shake things up by combining yogurt and bananas with other ingredients to make a refreshing and healthy fruit smoothie!
Low Starch Diet
Some people with ankylosing spondylitis report improvement while on a low-starch diet. More studies are needed, but some evidence suggests that reducing starch may help decrease inflammation.
Starch is found in foods like bread and bread products, pasta, potatoes, rice, pastries, and some pre-packaged snack foods. The low-starch diet (or London AS diet) allows fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, milk and milk products, and eggs.
In addition to maintaining the tenets of a healthy diet mentioned above, be sure to do the following:
- Be wary of any diet that claims to cure ankylosing spondylitis.
- Be suspicious of extreme diets—they may be harmful to your health.
- When in doubt, ask your doctor or a dietician.
- Tell your doctor about your diet, supplements, and all over-the-counter and prescriptions medications that you’re taking.
- Read ingredient and nutrition labels.
- Take small portions and eat slowly to avoid overeating. Carrying extra weight is hard on joints.
- Save the less healthy foods for an occasional treat.