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Diet and Nutrition for Ankylosing Spondylitis

  [ 18 votes ]   [ 1 Comment ]
By David Novak • • December 13, 2013

Diet and Nutrition for Ankylosing Spondylitis

Reprinted with kind permission of Celeste Cooper, These Three Blog, December 7, 2013.

By David Novak

Ankylosing spondylitis is a deforming and painful condition. Early in the disease, it can be misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia, or it can be an aggravating factor to many painful conditions. While there is no treatment, it is helpful to have tips for deterring the progression. I hope you will be as delighted as I am to read what David Novak from Healthline has to say.

Diet and Nutrition for Ankylosing Spondylitis

Healthy eating is an important part in taking control, not only of your health and well-being, but also your life. One must be aware that whatever food you're consuming can either improve or aggravate your overall health.

For those suffering from Ankylosing Spondylitis, having a healthy diet can help immensely, not only in relieving the symptoms such as pain and stiffness, but also slowing the progression of the disease. Ankylosing Spondylitis is a type of chronic arthritis that affects parts of the spine, including muscles, ligaments and bones. Symptoms may vary but most people experience back pain and stiffness. In severe cases, this could also lead to long-term disability.

The condition usually develops gradually, wherein there are times when symptoms are not present. Chest pain can also be experienced, particularly when breathing, as a result of the joints connecting the ribs to the spine.

Ankylosing Spondylitis is common in Canada, USA, Europe, and Australia since most of the people consume meat and milk as part of their daily diet, unlike in Africa and Asia where they consume more vegetables and fruits.  Animal fat and dairy have been linked to exacerbating this condition.

Diet and Nutrition

Although there is no specific diet for people suffering with Ankylosing Spondylitis, having a healthy weight is important to reduce stress on those painful joints. A healthy diet and exercise are highly recommended in maintaining a healthy weight. Proper foods keep the digestive system strong and the immune system in a healthy, fighting condition, lowering your risk against other diseases, as well as slowing the progression of Ankylosing Spondylitis.

Choose foods that help fight inflammation, keep your bones strong, and your digestive and immune system healthy. It is also recommended to maintain a food diary so you can keep track on what particular food seems to make you feel better or worse.

Here are some dietary changes you could make, which can be effective in relieving Ankylosing Spondylitis symptoms.

  • Omega-3 Fatty acids - based on several studies, omega-3 fatty acids may decrease the progression of Ankylosing Spondylitis, though more research is still needed to validate this result. Great food sources of omega-3 include walnuts, flax seeds, and coldwater fish.

  • Ginger root - has anti-inflammatory effects that can ease the pain and relieve stiffness in the joints.

  • Turmeric - which is commonly found in Asia, works in the body by turning off a NF-kappa B protein that regulates the immune system and triggers the inflammation process.

  • Garlic and Onions - these pungent vegetables have immune-boosting properties. Garlic also works similarly to NSAID pain medications, which shut off pathways leading to inflammation. Onions contain anti-inflammatory chemicals that can help alleviate Ankylosing Spondylitis symptoms.

  • Oily fish - oily fish contains anti-inflammatory fatty acids that can help relieve pain and inflammation of the joints. Examples are tuna, mackerel and mullet. Fish oil supplements are also recommended.

  • Yogurt - natural yogurt is a good source of probiotics, which is needed to maintain a healthy digestive system and fights off bad bacteria.

  • Plant sterols - this substance helps in building a strong immune system. Plant sterols are found in legumes, seeds, nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables.

  • Calcium and Vitamin D - these two nutrients are very essential in having strong bones, thus choose foods that are high in calcium and vitamin D. Foods high in calcium includes spinach, okra, soybeans, oatmeal, kale and white beans. Foods enriched with vitamin D are beef liver, egg yolks, cheese, and fatty fish like tuna and salmon.

  • Limit alcohol intake - alcoholic beverages can weaken bones, so if you can’t take it off your diet, limit your intake as much as possible.

  • Low in saturated fats - diet should also be low in saturated fats such as commercial pastries and chocolates, since this can aggravate the inflammation.

  • Foods rich in silicon - Silicon is essential in collagen formation, which is vital to healthy bones, cartilage and connective tissues. Sources of silica include whole grains, alfalfa, peppers, and seaweeds.

  • Multivitamin - multivitamins help in boosting the natural immune system of the body, which lowers your risk of contracting other diseases.

  • Food rich in proteoglycans - proteoglycans helps in restoring and nourishing cartilage. These can be found in tripe, mussels, oats and Irish moss.

  • Drink plenty of fluids - drinking at least 8-10 glasses of water a day is highly recommended. 

David Novak is a international syndicated newspaper columnist, appearing in newspapers, magazines, radio and TV around the world. His byline has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Reader's Digest and GQ Magazine, among others.  David is a health and diet enthusiast, and frequently writes on a wide array of health topics for various publications, including regular editions appearing in  For more of his Healthline articles, visit http://www.healthline



Please Discuss This Article:   Post a Comment 

Fact & Fiction
Posted by: RichAHoward
Jan 2, 2014
While some of the information in the article is accurate, some looks completely unsubstantiated. The difficulty is that the reader would not be able to identify which is which. For example, There ARE effective treatments available for many people living with AS (there is no cure) including NSAIDs and several TNF-i. There ARE significant number of people living in China with AS (.54% per Dr. Khan) (a higher percentage than some European countries), so the rationale that the diet in china is beneficial is illogical. There is a genetic component to the disease, so of course there would be regional differences that may have nothing to do with diet. Nevertheless, anecdotaly, some people report less pain with various types of diets, so it's reasonable to try a pain/diet journal.
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