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Ankylosing Spondylitis Diet Information

  • Date: 2010/01/07 (Rev. 2018/03/15)
  • Jacob Morrow
  • Synopsis : Dietary changes reported to assist in reducing inflammation and pain in joints of a person with Ankylosing Spondylitis.

Main Document

Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) causes inflammation along the spinal column, resulting in back pain and stiffness. No one knows what causes AS, but there has been suggestions that it may be an autoimmune disease, a description that also fits rheumatoid arthritis, another kind of joint disease.

The symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis are generally worse in the early morning and after periods of inactivity. Associated back pain is often relieved by flexing the spine which can result in the person developing a 'bent-over' posture.

Ankylosing Spondylitis and Diet

Authorities argue that elimination of the prime nutrients of Klebsiella (starches) would decrease antigenemia and improve the musculoskeletal symptoms. However, evidence for a correlation between Klebsiella and Ankylosing Spondylitis is circumstantial so far, and that the efficacy of low-starch diets has not yet been scientifically evaluated.

In 1982 at the Middlesex Hospital in London, Professor Alan Ebringer and his team began trials to assess the effectiveness of a new dietary approach to treating Ankylosing Spondylitis. A good deal of success has been reported by many Ankylosing Spondylitis patients enjoying great relief when following the Ankylosing Spondylitis diet.

It is interesting to note that Ankylosing Spondylitis is much more common among people of countries where rich foods are commonly eaten (eg. Australia, Europe, USA, Canada) yet it is a very rare disease in those parts of the world (including Africa and Asia) where whole-grains, and fruits and vegetables make up most of the diet and meat and dairy products are rarely eaten.

Some Dietary changes which have been reported to assist in reducing inflammation in the joints of a person with Ankylosing Spondylitis:

  • Diet rich in oily fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, mullet) which contain anti-inflammatory essential fatty acids.
  • Fresh, natural yogurt is a good source of acidophilus bacteria which is needed to maintain a healthy bowel and digestive system, especially if you suffer from bloating, flatulence and generally poor digestion, an acidophilus supplement may be beneficial.
  • Ginger root has known anti-inflammatory effects and can be included in both cooking and fresh juices.
  • The diet should be low in saturated fats, so avoid fatty and fried foods, commercial pastries, and chocolate.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil capsules) have shown to be of benefit in a 12 month study of people with inflamed joints.
  • Foods rich in silicon can be beneficial for arthritis sufferers. These include wholegrain cereals, hard nuts, seeds and apple.
  • Foods high in Vitamin C e.g., apples, pears, berries, pawpaws etc., may help to maintain healthy connective tissue.
  • Foods such as tripe, oats, irish moss, shark fin soup and mussels are rich in proteoglycans which help to nourish and restore cartilage.
  • A daily multi-vitamin which includes the antioxidant nutrients, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene and zinc may help to boost the natural immune system of the body.
  • Avoid acid forming foods such as red meat and sugar as these may also promote inflammation. Tea and coffee, especially when taken with meals, can interfere with the absorption of nutrients.
  • Joint inflammation may be aggravated by certain groups of food such as the "nightshade" vegetables (potato, tomato, aubergine, chili and peppers) and salicylate-rich foods.

While there is no harm in trying some of the diet suggestions for Ankylosing Spondylitis, further research is required to determine if diet changes may have a clinical effect on the course of AS. Studies on a low-starch Ankylosing Spondylitis diet could be difficult to fund, while new biologics developed by the pharmaceutical industry may demonstrate efficacy, as well as financial benefit to the industry (whereas changing the diet would not).

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