Are Eggs Bad for Arthritis?

Arthritis blights the lives of millions of people around the world. It affects more than over 350 million people and is a major cause of disability. The name arthritis does not refer to one single disease but to over 100 different conditions affecting joints. Two of the most common afflictions are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. 

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Are Eggs Bad for Arthritis?
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Traditionally many people associate arthritis with their own grandparents or elderly people but this is not the case. Anyone can suffer from arthritis regardless of age, gender or race. Women are more likely to suffer one or more conditions than males though. In the US there are more than 54 million people suffering from arthritis. That is around 23% of adults. Arthritis is a drain on healthcare and costs around $305 billion a year in medical care and loss of earnings. 

There are a variety of treatments and ways that arthritis can be managed and the pain relieved. Some of these are medical and others through changes in lifestyle.

What is arthritis?

Arthritis is a way to describe pain and swelling in the joints. There are different types including degenerative arthritis, inflammatory arthritis, infectious arthritis, and metabolic arthritis. The symptoms can stay the same over years or they may worsen. Some people have mild symptoms and others suffer from chronic, severe pain and disability. 

Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common autoimmune arthritis and there is no known cause or cure for the condition. This type affects around 1% of the world’s population and is 2 or 3 times more likely to affect women than men. It usually surfaces in people between their 30’s and 60’s although it is most likely to appear in someone in their 60’s. 

The symptoms of RA can be pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints, redness, several joints being affected at the same time in the hands and feet. If you have had symptoms for more than six months or find being stiff in the morning lasts more than 30 minutes then this could be signs of arthritis.

Are eggs particularly bad for arthritis?

There is a lot of research into different food types and drinks that might affect arthritis. Eggs for instance can increase swelling and pain in the joints. The reasons for this are that eggs contain arachidonic acid which can trigger inflammation in the human body. They also contain saturated fat which is known to bring on joint pain in arthritis sufferers. 

However this isn’t to say eating eggs is all bad. If you suffered from gout then eating eggs may help. Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis that affects the joints when too much uric acid builds up.Gout will often attack one joint at a time, normally the big toe causing swelling and is often extremely painful. A lot of the food we regularly eat contains purines. When purines are broken down they produce uric acid. When uric acid is not flushed out of the body they can form crystals which build up and cause problems such as kidney stones and gout attacks. 

Eggs are a great source of protein and they are low in purines which means they are good for a low uric acid diet. This is ideal for someone with gout. The vitamin D in eggs may help rheumatoid arthritis and the omega-6 fatty acids in eggs may increase pain and swelling in someone with osteoarthritis.

Should you consider ditching dairy completely?

Dairy foods can contain saturated fat and a protein called casein. Casein is known to cause inflammatory effects and pain in the joints. It is also possible casein can cause irritation in the joint areas. Other dairy products you probably already know are high in saturated fat. Butter, full fat milk and cheese for instance will likely be high in saturated fat. This can also cause increased joint pain and inflammation. 

If you enjoy dairy as part of your diet then you could consider making some changes. Swap your regular cheese for low or no fat cottage cheese, only eat egg whites, ditch the yolks and switch to either lower fat milk or a milk alternative such as soy or almond. Egg whites do not contain vitamin D that you need for helping rheumatoid arthritis but they are also free of saturated fat so if you can’t give up eggs completely this may be a compromise you can accept.

Trying a dairy eliminator diet

If you have dairy in your diet and you are worrying about how it might be affecting your arthritis you could try to eliminate parts of the diet that are causing problems. First you will need to cut out all the dairy products for 2 - 3 weeks. That means no eggs, no milk, no mayonnaise, no butter etc. and no cheating! Then see if your symptoms are alleviated. If you find that joint pain and swelling is reduced it is possible that one or more types of dairy are exacerbating your condition. 

You can now start to reintroduce dairy food items one at a time. For instance start with eggs and see if they have any effect on your arthritis. If after a few days everything seems ok then try the next one, such as milk. This may help you to identify if there is one problematic area in your diet or if dairy as a whole is worsening your symptoms.

Are there any particular types of food to avoid?

Generally the foods to avoid when you have arthritis are the same ones to avoid when you don’t suffer from arthritis. You want to stay away from saturated fats, processed meats, sugar, refined grains, and fried foods.

Sugar can release inflammatory agents called cytokines which lead to joint pain. Fried foods can lead to inflammation in the body through saturated fat. Both of these food types can lead to weight gain. Putting on weight can lead to extra pressure and stress on the joints and worsen the symptoms of gout and rheumatoid arthritis.

If you are suffering from arthritic symptoms it is essential you see a healthcare professional or a clinic such as The Spine & Rehab Group. The symptoms are not always visible and the damage may only be seen by an x-ray. A professional will be able to help you manage your condition and advise on a diet and lifestyle to suit you.

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