Fad diets come and go, and some are more effective than others. It can be tempting to try out the latest diet trends, especially if all of your friends are doing it. However, some foods are better at helping with bone health and inflammation than others. If you have arthritis, not all diet trends may be best for you, even if they help you to lose weight.
If you can find a diet you like, it will be easier to stick with it. On the other hand, you also need to make sure your body is getting the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and function properly. Let’s look at some of the most popular diet trends right now and see which are the best options for arthritis and bone health.
The idea behind the Paleo diet is that by eating the same foods as our hunter-gatherer ancestors—fruits, vegetables, meat, seafood, and nuts—we can be healthier. Processed foods, packaged foods, alcohol, and dairy are not allowed with this diet.
Benefits: Cutting out processed foods is certainly helpful in getting healthier and losing weight. The nutrients contained in many fruits and vegetables can also be helpful in promoting bone and joint health.
Drawbacks: The Paleo diet can be very restrictive, and you’ll probably have to commit to preparing most of your meals yourself to meet all of the diet restrictions. If you eat or order out frequently, this diet might not be for you. Also, dairy is a prime source of calcium, which is essential for bone health. While you can get calcium from other sources, it is important to make sure that you are getting enough, since the Paleo diet outlaws dairy.
Detoxes and cleanses are supposed to rid your body of toxins so that you feel healthier and may even lose weight. Many detoxes involve a liquid-only diet for a certain period of time, while others may involve whole vegetables. The problem is, there is no scientific evidence that supports the claim that detox diets are actually removing toxins from the body, or that the diet is even needed. Our liver and kidneys are already getting rid of the toxins in our bodies, so a detox may not be helpful in that aspect.
Benefits: Detoxes and cleanses cut out processed foods and increase your intake of fruits and vegetables, which is an important part of any healthy lifestyle. However, many other diets can also help you accomplish this.
Drawbacks: Detoxes and cleanses are only temporary—you won’t get any long-term benefits from them. You may initially lose a few pounds, but most people end up gaining that weight back. Also, if a detox limits protein or requires fasting, it may make you tired, and your body may not get all of the nutrients it needs. If you are fatigued or malnourished, you may not feel up to exercising, which is very important if you have arthritis. You’re much better off sticking with a healthy diet all the time than trying to “detox” your body.
The Mediterranean diet consists primarily of fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, and greens. It is low in saturated fat and limits processed foods. Common foods in the Mediterranean diet include salmon, tuna, walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios, almonds, colorful fruits and vegetables, olive oil, beans, and whole grains.
Benefits: Studies have found the Mediterranean diet to be helpful with a number of conditions, including high blood pressure, heart disease, and joint inflammation caused by arthritis. In fact, the Arthritis Foundation recommends the Mediterranean diet to promote joint health. If you are interested in trying this diet, the Arthritis Foundation has a helpful resource that spells out what foods you should eat and how much of each food you should eat.
Drawbacks: The Mediterranean diet has all of the components of a healthy diet, so there aren’t many drawbacks. The key is to make sure you are eating the correct portions of each type of food—not more or less. You will need to restrict red meat and processed foods with this diet, but this is true of most beneficial diets. Remember, your long-term health is worth the sacrifice.
It is important to know that there is no “magic” diet that will completely eliminate your joint pain, give you healthy, strong bones right away, and make you lose weight quickly. If you want your bones and joints to stay healthy, you need to consistently make the choice to lead a healthy lifestyle, eat healthy foods, and exercise regularly.