Can a Fish Rich Diet Help with Arthritis? - Rheumatology Consultant London | Rheumatologist London | Dr Stephanie Barrett



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Inflammation characterises arthritis. It is a disease which is almost always centred around inflamed joints and the pain this causes. Treating inflammation is possible with a range of drug therapies and additional treatments, but diet can also play a role. Anti-inflammatory foods can help ease the symptoms of arthritis and many types of fish are particularly high in anti-inflammatory agents.

Anti-Inflammatory Fish Rich Diet

It is the omega-3 fatty acids in fish which are key to fighting inflammation. The two key marine fatty acids in fish are:

  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)

They are found in many different types of fish and they can play a role in lessening inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids interfere directly with leukocytes, immune cells, and also cytokines, a type of enzyme. Both leukocytes and cytokines play a role in the body’s inflammatory responses.

Regularly eating fish in your diet generally can limit the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Those with a diagnosis may experience a reduction in joint swelling and pain too.

Choosing the Right Fish

Marine omega-3 fatty acids are found in many types of fish. However, the best options include salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines. Working these fish into your diet can be of great benefit in alleviating rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.

The amount of fish you need to eat is up to you. Many recommend around 100-200g of any of these omega-3 rich fish at least two times a week, but more often cannot hurt. It is also very important to note that some fish high in omega-3 fatty acids are also high in mercury. These fish should be treated with a little more caution and not eaten in such high volume. Mercury-rich fish include shark, swordfish and tuna.

A Healthy Diet for Arthritis

Many people don’t like the taste of flavour of fish. Understandably you shouldn’t start eating something you don’t enjoy but the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids mean you should find a way of adding them to your diet. This could be through supplements such as cod liver oil. Other foods such as eggs, wild rice and soybeans also have increased levels of omega-3s, so you can further widen and diversify your diet, not just with fish.

A good diet alone will not alleviate all the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, but it can help manage and limit some of the pain and inflammation.