The different fats in our diet can be either pro- or anti-inflammatory in the body.
Diet tips: What to do for joint pain
Regulate inflammation via fatty acid composition:
Fats are essential for health. And yet, not all fats are the same. Here it is important to look carefully and use the “good” fats. After all, fats can fuel inflammatory processes in the body or, in the better case, contain and regulate them.
- Saturated fats can trigger a danger signal in our immune cells and cause an inflammatory reaction. And trans fats (= hydrogenated vegetable oils) have also been shown to have negative consequences for our immune response. So when we consume these two types of fats in high levels, we provoke inflammation in the body.
- Also problematic is the high consumption of omega-6 fatty acids. You could call them the raw material for inflammatory reactions, because they contain linoleic acid, which is metabolized to arachidonic acid and corresponds to a signal molecule that promotes inflammation. We absorb arachidonic acid with our food when we consume animal fats or certain vegetable oils such as sunflower oil or even margarine. So by reducing or eliminating these foods, arachidonic acid can be slowed down. This is one of the reasons why many patients are recommended a vegetarian, vegan or Mediterranean diet.
- At the same time, there is an antagonist of these pro-inflammatory signal molecules: omega-3 fatty acids. These should therefore be consumed in abundance! Our immune system uses omega-3 fatty acids to produce special anti-inflammatory mediators. They are mainly found in fatty cold-water fish such as salmon or herring. Unfortunately, bioavailability from plants is much lower. Nevertheless, a certain part can be covered from vegetables, nuts and seeds such as linseed or walnut oil.
In studies of rheumatism patients, fish oil significantly reduced morning joint stiffness, joint redness and swelling, and pain.
Ultimately, however, what matters most is the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6. Both fatty acids are important for our health. However, our diet today actually contains less omega-3 and much more omega-6, so blood tests of fatty acid status usually show a significantly shifted ratio in favor of omega-6 fatty acids.
Regulate acid-base balance:
If we eat a lot of acid-forming foods, then this can set additional inflammatory stimuli and weaken bones, cartilage and connective tissue. An alkaline diet is therefore preferable. Bad acid-forming foods are, for example, alcohol, sugar, coffee, carbonated drinks or dairy, eggs and meat from conventional farming. These should be avoided as far as possible or consumed only in small quantities.
As a result of chronic inflammatory processes, long-term medication or even psychological stress and loss of appetite, there may be an undersupply of energy or nutrients. By means of BIA measurement (bioelectrical impedance analysis), the body composition can be specifically examined. Among other things, this simple examination method provides information on how much fat, water and active cell mass is present. From this, conclusions can be drawn about the nutritional status of the cells or, for example, a possible protein deficiency.