Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of inflammatory arthritis in which the body attacks its joints, most commonly affecting the spine. Symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis include joint pain, stiffness, fatigue, and inflammation of other body systems.
Following a well-balanced anti-inflammatory diet can help reduce inflammation throughout the body. This, in turn, can help manage symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis and reduce the likelihood of flare-ups, times when symptoms get worse.
This article will outline the benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet for ankylosing spondylitis, foods to eat, and foods to avoid.
An anti-inflammatory diet is beneficial for reducing inflammation throughout the body, especially if you have an autoimmune disease like ankylosing spondylitis. However, there are no specific dietary guidelines unique to managing this condition. Research is growing as scientists learn more about the impact of diet on disease and the severity of symptoms.
Emerging evidence suggests that an imbalance of healthy gut bacteria, collectively called the gut microbiome, is directly influenced by the types of foods eaten. A disrupted gut microbiome can trigger autoimmune diseases like ankylosing spondylitis. Following an anti-inflammatory diet can help promote a healthy gut microbiota, which can help manage symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis.
How it works
Following an anti-inflammatory diet involves making healthy food choices every day to incorporate into your meals. The time, frequency and size of meals depend on your individual preferences.
Following an anti-inflammatory diet is a long-term lifestyle change. Try to eat anti-inflammatory foods daily for better results and overall health.
what to eat
When you follow an anti-inflammatory diet, you focus on fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, such as fish and chicken, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats.
Fatty fish, especially sardines, salmon, sea bass, and trout
Nuts and seeds
Extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil
Grains containing gluten like wheat, rye, and barley
Excess red meat, especially from corn- and soy-fed sources
Artificial colours, flavors and additives
Certain foods, such as dairy products and grains like corn, rice, and oats, don’t cause inflammation in some people, but do in others. Try eliminating these foods from your diet for a month to see if you notice a difference in the way you feel.
If you choose to consume these foods, choose organic sources when possible.
Using unrefined oils, like extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, or avocado oil for cooking, helps boost your antioxidant intake. Avoid refined oils like canola, cottonseed, corn, and peanut oils, as they are inflammatory to the body.
When cooking, bake, roast and sauté foods rather than frying them to preserve nutritional quality. Use herbs and spices to season foods instead of dressings and heavy sauces.
Avoiding or limiting starchy foods, including grain-based products like bread, pasta, crackers, cookies, pastries, and desserts, can be beneficial for managing ankylosing spondylitis. A low-starch diet can limit the growth of Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria in the gut, a known trigger for increased disease activity in ankylosing spondylitis.
Following an anti-inflammatory diet for ankylosing spondylitis should be a lifelong change to manage symptoms and reduce the risk of flare-ups. Supplementation and overall cost are two important things to consider when making this healthy lifestyle change.
Supplementing your diet can help maintain a healthy balance and immune system function. Use a probiotic supplement to support the growth of beneficial bacteria, which will improve your gut microbiome and immune system.
A vitamin D supplement can also help support your immune system. Vitamin D is produced by the skin in response to sunlight and is obtained from foods like fish and eggs in limited amounts.
Since most people in the United States do not get enough sun exposure year-round to produce enough vitamin D, many Americans have low or insufficient vitamin D levels. Higher levels of vitamin D are associated with a decreased risk of ankylosing spondylitis and lower levels of disease activity.
Another study looked at vitamin D and omega 3 supplements, which showed a significantly lower rate of autoimmune diseases in patients who regularly took vitamin D supplements.
Many people think that eating healthy can be expensive, but following an anti-inflammatory diet can be affordable and achievable. Buying locally and seasonally can help keep product costs affordable by eliminating the cost of shipping food from other areas. Buying foods in bulk, especially foods like poultry, fish, and vegetables that can be stored in the freezer, can also help reduce food prices.
Although there are no specific dietary guidelines for ankylosing spondylitis, maintaining an anti-inflammatory diet filled with whole, unprocessed foods can help reduce inflammation throughout the body, which will reduce inflammation. severity of symptoms and the likelihood of flare-ups.
Additionally, following a low-starch diet can be particularly beneficial for ankylosing spondylitis by limiting the growth of certain bacteria that can trigger the disease, while supplementing with vitamin D and probiotics can help support a healthy immune system.
A word from Verywell
Treating ankylosing spondylitis can be difficult and involves several methods to help you feel better. Consider talking to your health care provider or a registered dietitian to help you establish healthy eating habits. With or without autoimmune diseases, many people tend to feel better when they replace processed and refined foods with healthier options.