Ankylosing spondylitis (AS), a form of inflammatory arthritis that mainly affects the spine, produces intermittent flare-ups of pain in the spinal joints. It can also cause problems in the hips, shoulders, pelvis and extremities, and eventually lead to immobility.
A cure for AS remains to be found. However, new studies have shown that certain foods can help lessen AS symptoms and decrease inflammation.
Foods to Avoid
No specific diet exists for AS, but some foods can trigger symptoms, while others can help slow disease progression.
Foods commonly known to increase inflammation in AS patients include:
• Red meat
Additionally, the Spondylitis Association of America recommends that AS patients reduce their consumption of cholesterol, fat, sugar and salt. And the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition (CSNN) advises limiting your intake of animal products, particularly red meat, which can increase inflammation.
One more item to eliminate or limit—alcohol. Research has linked alcohol consumption to an increased risk for weakened bones, so try not to have more than two servings per week.
The Elimination Diet
Experts recommend that AS patients start with an elimination diet to identify food sensitivities. That is, do not eat any of the “foods to avoid” for three weeks. Then reintroduce one item per day, and record your symptoms.
If any symptoms return after you start eating a certain food again, eliminate that food for at least three months. Then try to reintroduce it again.
The Best Foods for AS
As part of any healthy diet, but particularly for AS patients, it’s important to increase your consumption of food rich in protein and fiber but low in fat, such as:
• Vegetables and fruits
• Nuts, peas and beans
• Fish and low-fat meat
The CSNN recommends that people with AS incorporate a good amount of plat sterols into their diets. These are foods that help modulate your immune response and reduce inflammation. Examples include fresh fruit, legumes, soy and fresh seafood.
Of course, getting plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, found in flaxseed and cold-water fish like salmon and mackerel, provide extensive health benefits and also reduce inflammation.
Other experts recommend that AS patients include the following in their diets:
• Ginger (Amazing Ginger Secrets)
• Foods high in vitamin C, calcium and vitamin D
Finally, drink plenty of water. Water helps cushion joints and ensures good movement. Aim to drink between eight and 10 glasses of water a day for the best joint health.
Before You Begin
Before you make any dietary changes, consult your physician to ensure that the modifications you make suit your particular condition and other health factors.