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Arthritis is an umbrella term for a range of conditions that cause joint pain, stiffness and swelling. There are many types of arthritis but one of the most common is rheumatoid arthritis – an autoimmune disease whereby your immune system attacks the lining of your joints. An intense episode of inflammation can make it hard to perform even basic tasks.
However, research suggests you can alleviate rheumatoid arthritis by overhauling aspects of your lifestyle.
Diet continues to be an area of investigation and research has linked a number of spices to reduced disease activity.
Researchers performed a systematic literature review of studies assessing the effect of spice supplementation on symptoms and disease activity in patients with chronic inflammatory rheumatic diseases.
Altogether, six studies, assessing the use of spice supplementation only in rheumatoid arthritis patients, were included.
The researchers included a study on garlic supplementation, two on curcumin, one on ginger, one on cinnamon, and one on saffron supplementation.
“Garlic, ginger, cinnamon, or saffron supplementation was associated with a decrease in RA [rheumatoid arthritis] clinical activity,” the researchers wrote.
However, several points “limit the external validity” of these studies, the researchers acknowledged.
They also noted that “no conclusion on the impact of curcumin supplementation on RA activity could be drawn due to low-quality studies”.
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The researchers concluded: “Garlic, ginger, cinnamon, and saffron supplementation could have a beneficial effect on RA activity.”
Some of the most encouraging research focuses on the use of ginger.
Laboratory and animal studies have found ginger extracts can reduce the production of several chemical substances (including leukotrienes) that promote joint inflammation.
According to Versus Arthritis, ginger also contains salicylates, which your body transforms into a chemical substance called salicylic acid.
“Salicylic acid protects your nerves by making certain prostaglandins and this eases pain and discomfort,” notes the health body.
In addition to improving your diet, it is vital to engage in regular exercise.
If your arthritis is painful, you may not feel like exercising.
“However, being active can help reduce and prevent pain,” notes the NHS.
Crucially, exercise aids weight loss, which can alleviate arthritis symptoms.
“If you’re overweight, losing weight can really help you cope with arthritis,” explains the NHS.
As the health body explains, too much weight places excess pressure on the joints in your hips, knees, ankles and feet, leading to increased pain and mobility problems.
Regular exercise can also:
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