Volume 20, Number 6

The Bridge

       February, 2004

By Judy Nance, R.N.


More and more research is suggesting that various diseases involve inflammatory processes in the body. The more inflammation, the worse the disease progression. However, your eating habits can affect the inflammation and possibly lead to better health.

Decreasing Inflammation to decrease Arthritis Pain: Inflammation is one of the hallmarks of arthritis. It's what causes stiff, swollen joints that are painful to move. But if you eat fats, or oils that help to create prostaglandins such as fish oils, those that contain omega-3 fatty acids, it will help to coat the cells in your body including cells in your joints. The good fish oils are found in cold water fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring and fresh blue-fin tuna. In a study in Denmark people with rheumatoid arthritis who ate a diet with 4 ounces of fish every day experienced significant decrease in morning stiffness, swollen joints and all around pain after 6 months of following the prescribed meal plan.

One way to make fish or fish oil capsules work better is to eat less omega 6 fatty acids( which leads to the creation of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins). Omega 6's are present in cottonseed, sunflower and corn oil. Switching to canola, soybean or olive oil will help as well as eating less processed foods and dessert items. Caution to those on blood thinners such as aspirin or other medications. Check with your doctor before consuming large amounts of fish oil etc. Again eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits and whole grains and low in processed foods and desserts.

Information from: Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter, February, 2004