Ruth asks This Morning doctor about milk helping arthritis
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An arthritis diagnosis can be a very daunting experience, as there is no cure for the chronic pain condition. Emily Johnson, author and blogger, knows the feeling of “despair” that can accompany a diagnosis all too well, after being diagnosed with the condition in her twenties. However, Emily found changing her diet redefined her relationship to arthritis – and she hopes to educate anyone else with arthritis on how to do the same.
Emily Johnson started her Instagram account, The Arthritis Foodie, shortly after she was diagnosed with arthritis at the age of 21.
Speaking about this time in her life, Emily said: “I was just in complete despair. The word arthritis to me, a 21-year-old at that point, just didn’t make sense.
“I was like ‘but I’m not old?!’, because everyone else in the waiting room was in their 60s and 70s. I just felt so embarrassed and ashamed.”
Although Emily took some time to adjust to her new diagnosis, she began to experiment with new approaches to living with arthritis, starting with completely changing her diet.
Years later, not only is Emily living well with arthritis, but her Instagram account has amassed more than 18,000 followers.
Emily said: “I wish I could go back to my younger self and tell her in seven years time she would be public about living with arthritis.”
Emily hopes to inspire all her followers to “genuinely live better with arthritis from day to day”.
She added: “As I say in my book, if you have to live with someone 24 seven, seven days a week, 365 days a year, you have to look at them and learn how to live with them, rather than making them your enemy.
“That’s how I think about arthritis now. I look at ways to live with arthritis.”
For Emily, it took making drastic changes to her diet to get on top of her arthritis and feel more “empowered” about her day-to-day management of the condition.
She’s even found a passion for cooking new recipes and enjoying different foods, whereas before she relied on “bland” ready meals and oven foods.
Emily’s top arthritis-friendly foods
In her book, Beat Arthritis Naturally, Emily has a whole chapter dedicated to the essentials you should always have in your cupboards for arthritis-friendly cooking.
These are five of the foods Emily says she couldn’t live without.
1 – Kale
Emily said: “I absolutely love kale – you can put it in smoothies, you can bake it and make really nice kale crisps, add it to soups, add it to curries!
“It’s so yummy. I’m a fan of any vegetables you can throw into anything.”
Kale and other leafy green vegetables are high in antioxidants, which can help fight inflammation.
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2 – Chickpeas
Chickpeas are high in protein and fibre, while being delicious and low in calories.
Emily said: “Chickpeas can go in anything – I had them for lunch today in a tomato dish with kidney beans and spices.
“You can also add them to salads, either out of the tin or bake them and add as a crunchy salad topping.
“Or try making your own hummus with chickpeas and extra virgin olive oil.”
3 – Extra virgin olive oil
Extra virgin olive oil is often celebrated as a ‘healthy fat’ because it is a source of monounsaturated fats.
This natural oil, pressed from olives, is also high in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Emily said: “I always have extra virgin olive oil in the cupboard – it’s the only oil I will use, and I make my own salad dressings with it too.”
4 – Fruits and berries
Fruits have plenty of health benefits as they’re packed with nutrients yet low in calories.
Berries in particular are rich in antioxidants.
Emily said: “I always have fruits in the house. Bananas, raspberries and blueberries are my favourites.
“I keep frozen fruits too so if I haven’t had time to grab anything fresh I’ll grab frozen fruits and make a smoothie.”
5 – Nuts
Nuts and seeds are full of healthy fats, and are recommended as a snack for people with arthritis.
Emily said: “I always make sure I have nuts in – cashew nuts, brazil nuts, almonds.
“In my book, I include my favourite recipe for an arthritis-friendly spicy nut mix, which you can batch-cook. I make a big batch and put the spicy nuts into a big jar that sits on my desk.”
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