Ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic inflammatory disease that mainly affects the spine. The disease can cause some of the bones in the spine to fuse, which makes the spine less flexible. In some cases, ankylosing spondylitis may affect the ribs, making breathing difficult. Additionally, it may spread in other areas of the body, potentially causing damage to other joints or even damage to the neck.
The most common symptom of ankylosing spondylitis is pain or stiffness in the back or hips. Pain is typically worse at rest or when inactive, and less during physical activity or exercise. Almost 80% of patients with ankylosing spondylitis say the foods they eat affect their symptoms. This article will discuss a few diet tips if you suffer from ankylosing spondylitis.
What foods make ankylosing spondylitis worse?
Certain foods may worsen inflammation in the body, which in turn can worsen autoimmune conditions such as ankylosing spondylitis.
Foods reported to increase inflammation are:
- High-sodium foods (for example, highly processed foods)
- Fatty foods
- Red meat
It’s important to always listen to your own body. There are few scientific studies which prove that a particular food worsens ankylosing spondylitis in everyone.1 So, try to understand what your unique food triggers are and avoid those.
What foods to avoid if you have ankylosing spondylitis?
Many people with ankylosing spondylitis find that pro-inflammatory foods can worsen their symptoms. These include:
- Red meat
- Highly processed foods
- Foods high in refined starch (for example, pastries)
- Foods high in sodium (most fast foods)
Having these foods frequently also makes it harder to maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight puts extra stress on your joints, including your spine.
What diet is best for ankylosing spondylitis?
There is no specific diet for ankylosing spondylitis. However, certain foods may help reduce inflammation and help you maintain a healthy weight, so there is less stress on your spine and other joints.
Try to include the following food items in your diet:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
- Vitamin D
- Omega-three fatty acids
- Calcium-rich foods
- Herbs and spices
What foods trigger ankylosing spondylitis?
Some foods can cause flare up symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis. These foods may include those that are high in salt, fat, sugar, processed foods, dairy products, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, and caffeine.
Is banana good for spondylitis?
Bananas may not directly help relieve symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis, but consuming bananas with active-culture yogurt can help protect the digestive system, which often gets damaged by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) medications. NSAIDs (for example ibuprofen, naproxen) are commonly prescribed medications for ankylosing spondylitis to control pain, stiffness, and inflammation. One of the side effects of NSAIDs is damage to the digestive tract lining.
What vitamins help with ankylosing spondylitis?
Calcium is essential for healthy bones, and Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption. Your doctors may recommend foods and supplements rich in Vitamin D and calcium. This helps prevent osteoporosis, which is more common in people with ankylosing spondylitis.
Is turmeric good for spondylosis?
Turmeric has long been touted for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Curcumin, one of the main components of turmeric, may help to reduce inflammation and decrease symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis. In a recent study, researchers found that curcumin improved arthritis symptoms (including ankylosing spondylitis) without significant side effects.
Is milk good for ankylosing spondylitis?
Milk is high in calcium, which is helpful for building healthy bones and preventing osteoporosis. At the same time, some people with ankylosing spondylitis find that dairy products worsen inflammation. Every person is different. Try to track how dairy affects your symptoms.
If you decide milk is not a good source of calcium for you, you can try other sources like almonds, sesame seeds, or kale.
What medications can help with ankylosing spondylitis?
The primary goal of treatment is to reduce symptoms and delay the progression of the disease. The following medications can be used in treating ankylosing spondylitis:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): These medications help reduce inflammation, pain, and stiffness. Some examples of NSAIDs include ibuprofen and naproxen.
Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blockers: If NSAIDs are not helpful, your doctor may prescribe TNF blockers. These medications are injected under your skin or intravenously. Some examples of TNF blockers include infliximab, adalimumab, etanercept, and certolizumab.
2Zeng L, Yang T, Yang K, Yu G, Li J, Xiang W, Chen H. Efficacy and Safety of Curcumin and Curcuma longa Extract in the Treatment of Arthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trial. Front Immunol. 2022 Jul 22;13:891822. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2022.891822. PMID: 35935936; PMCID: PMC9353077.