Rheumatoid Arthritis: NHS on common signs and symptoms
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“Beans have excellent health properties – many of which are beneficial for arthritis sufferers,” said doctor Deborah Lee from Dr Fox Online Pharmacy. “[They] are recommended for those following an anti-inflammatory diet.”
From vitamins to fibre, the little pulses are packed with various different nutrients and goodies.
But when it comes to the joint condition, the potent part is antioxidants.
Doctor Lee said: “Antioxidants are substances we consume in our diet, from eating fresh fruit and vegetables – including beans.
“These antioxidants counteract potentially dangerous molecules called reactive oxygen species (ROS), and prevent them from doing damage, also helping to damp down the inflammation.”
What’s more, a diet rich in antioxidants can also help lower levels of chronic inflammation.
This could be beneficial for those with arthritis as inflammation is “the major cause of symptoms”.
Doctor Lee continued: “Chronic inflammation means inflammatory cells are attacking the joints – causing pain, redness, swelling, and reduced mobility.”
This is where pulses step in with their anti-inflammatory powers.
The Arthritis Foundation recommends eating around one cup of beans twice a week.
Doctor Lee explained that the powerful antioxidant properties packed in beans were also documented by a study.
A 2021 research noticed that legumes were able to lower levels of C-reactive protein, which is considered a common inflammatory marker.
The expert said: “Beans are loaded with fibre and phytonutrients, which help lower CRP, an indicator of inflammation found in the blood.
“At high levels, CRP could indicate anything from an infection to rheumatoid arthritis.”
To illustrate, the doctor shared that only one cup of red beans contains 13,727 antioxidants while kidney beans contain 13,259.
Apart from antioxidants, beans contain bioactive compounds, including phenolic acid, which could help “switch off the production of inflammatory metabolic by-products”.
The expert described other ways in which the pulses could help lower inflammation, saying: “Eating more beans can improve the dietary absorption of magnesium, which has an important role in switching off some inflammatory pathways.”
However, she also noted that not all research on beans and arthritis is so compelling.
Doctor Lee said: “A recent 2020 systematic review concluded there is very low-level evidence that an anti-inflammatory diet results in greater weight loss or improvements in biomarkers of inflammation.
“Unfortunately, the trials that do exist are short term and of poor quality, so no real conclusions can be made at present.
“Large, well conducted, randomised controlled trials are needed.”
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