Ankylosing spondylitis, or AS, is a type of arthritis that most often affects the spine and causes inflammation and intermittent flare-ups of severe pain of the spinal joints. AS is not considered curable, but diet may help to slow the progression and lessen AS symptoms.
Important Information On The Cause of AS
The Spondylitis Association of America, or SAA, says that the cause of AS is unknown but there seems to be a genetic connection and it is suspected to result when a bacterial infection attacks the sacroiliac joints of a genetically predisposed individual. The Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, or CSNN, adds that your immune system is likely involved as well, because a strong immune system would be able to fight off the bacteria and keep the inflammation in check.
Eliminate Food Sensitivities
CSNN says that it is important to identify and eliminate all food sensitivities and allergies. Many people have food sensitivities without realizing it, because the symptoms might not appear until up to 24 hours after the consumption of an allergenic food. Eating foods that you are sensitive to increases overall inflammation levels in your body and that may result in increased inflammation of the spine, as well. Work with a health-care practitioner to identify food allergens, or alternatively consider eliminating the most commonly allergenic foods for three weeks. These food are dairy, wheat, gluten, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplants, red meat, caffeine, sugar, corn and eggs, says CSNN. After three weeks, add one food item back into your diet a day and monitor your symptoms. If you notice an increase in symptoms after the consumption of a certain food, eliminate it from your diet for a few more months, at which time you can experiment with adding it back in again. If you do not notice any flare-up than the food can be consumed safely.
Eat A Diet High In Plant Sterols
CSNN suggests consuming a diet that is high in plant sterols, a substance that helps to strengthen your immune system. These foods include fresh fruit, eggs, nuts, seeds, legumes, vegetables, healthy fats and oil such as extra virgin olive oil, soy, seafood and fresh fish. CSNN also recommends increasing your consumption of fiber, because fiber will bind to circulating toxins in your body and eliminte them safely.
According to CSNN, a multi-strain probiotic supplement may be helpful, and you can find one at health food stores in the refridgerater section. A probiotic supplement will put good bacteria into your gut and help to both fight off bad bacteria and support your immune system. Alternatively, you can consume foods that contain naturally occuring probiotics such as kefir, yogurt and kombucha tea.
Food Substances and Diets to Avoid
SAA warns that certain dietary practices may worsen AS symptoms and it advises against the consumption of large amounts of alfalfa, copper, salt or zinc. Finally, it is important to eat a well-rounded diet if you are an AS sufferer, in order to provide your body with adequate nutrients and thereby support your immune system. As such, SAA says that it is best to avoid low-calorie, low-fat and low-protein diets.
- Spondylitis Association of America: Changing Your Diet
- "Pathology and Nutrition"; The Canadian School of Natural Nutrition; 2008