Meal planning for clients with arthritis is important to help manage joint pain and fatigue, but can feel tough as a practitioner! It's difficult to know where to start and how to best approach symptom management. Today we're here to help you develop an evidence-based arthritis action plan that can be personalized for your clients.
Arthritis is a term used to describe a group of over 100 diseases characterized by inflammation in the joints or other areas of the body. Arthritis can be broadly grouped into two categories - osteoarthritis and inflammatory arthritis. Most clients with arthritis experience symptoms of chronic pain, fatigue, restricted mobility, and lowered mood.
If your client is diagnosed with arthritis or suffers from joint pain, the good news is that diet and nutrition play a major role in lowering inflammation and managing symptoms. That Clean Life offers a premade Bone Health Support Program and a premade Anti-Inflammatory Program that are a great place to start, depending on your client's nutritional concerns and symptoms. These programs include a 7-day meal plan, itemized grocery list, recipes, prep guide, and supporting evidence.
You can also build a meal plan from scratch for your clients with arthritis. That Clean Life allows you to filter and hand-select recipes that exclude ingredients that negatively affect your clients' arthritis, as well as filter for specific micronutrients that will reduce the pain in your clients' joints.
Our Automator helps you generate personalized smart plans with calories (1200 - 5000), macros (fat, carbs, protein), tags, and exclude ingredients.
These are the key considerations you can keep in mind when creating a meal plan to help your clients with arthritis manage symptoms.
1. Bone Building Nutrients
There are certain essential minerals and vitamins that support bone health and can help prevent or manage osteoporosis.
Clients with rheumatoid arthritis can be at higher risk for osteoporosis and should aim to meet their daily calcium, magnesium, and potassium needs. These minerals play a structural role in bone maintenance and modulate potential bone-damaging inflammation. Our programs use calcium-rich ingredients like fortified milk beverages, Greek yogurt, and fish with bones, magnesium is incorporated from food sources like chocolate, almonds, and leafy greens, and potassium is found in many fruits and vegetables.
Vitamin C is found in fruits and vegetables and is an essential element of bone collagen, inflammation, and pain management. Vitamin D helps to increase the absorption of calcium, ultimately building stronger bones. Vitamin D deficiency is prevalent worldwide and has been linked to several chronic inflammatory diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis. Obtaining sufficient vitamin D from natural (non-fortified) food sources alone is difficult. Experts recommend that adults take a vitamin D supplement year-round.
2. Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids can help clients with inflammatory arthritis by alleviating joint stiffness and pain. They have been found to suppress inflammation and modulate the immune response. Our Anti-Inflammatory Program incorporates omega-3 fats from salmon, nuts, and seeds.
An imbalance in gut bacteria is often found in clients with arthritis as well as in those at-risk to develop arthritis. Fiber can restore microbial homeostasis and lowers C-reactive protein (CRP), a substance in the blood that indicates inflammation. Add whole grains, legumes, and fruits and vegetables to your client’s meal plan as they are loaded with fiber and phytonutrients.
Antioxidants such as vitamin E, carotenoids, and selenium may help protect joints by removing some of the compounds in the body that cause inflammation. These nutrients can be found in plant-based oils, nuts, and seeds, and brightly colored fruits and vegetables such as oranges, bell peppers, pumpkins, tangerines, and papayas.
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, and cabbage contain sulforaphane which may help prevent or slow the progression of osteoarthritis.
Anthocyanins found in red and purple fruits like cherries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries help reduce the frequency of gout attacks and may help ease the swelling associated with gout, a type of arthritis.
Polyphenols can act as antioxidants by neutralizing harmful free radicals that would otherwise damage your client’s cells. Polyphenols are found in dark chocolate, berries, apples, grapes, and oats. The polyphenol curcumin in turmeric is incorporated into our program for its role as an anti-inflammatory agent and its use in treating chronic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
3. Addressing Deficiencies
Many people with arthritis have anemia, which means they do not have enough hemoglobin or red blood cells. This may result from inflammation and certain medications. To help maintain the health of red blood cells and prevent anemia, it is important to get enough iron. There are two types of iron found in foods: heme iron (from red meat and other animal products) and non-heme iron (from spinach, legumes, and dried fruit). For better absorption of non-heme iron, encourage clients to pair it with vitamin C-rich foods like citrus, tomatoes, or peppers at meal time.
The effects of arthritis medications that are frequently taken long-term may lead to nutrient deficiencies, for example, patients receiving methotrexate are frequently identified with folic acid deficiency. Spinach, liver, asparagus, and brussels sprouts are among the foods with the highest folate levels. Getting enough folic acid can also reduce common methotrexate side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and liver toxicity.
You can use That Clean Life’s filters to choose recipes that meet your client’s daily iron and folate requirements.
Nutrition and meal planning is one piece of helping your clients with arthritis. Medications and exercise are also important. Encourage your clients to stay active as this can decrease pain by keeping joints and cartilage healthy.
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