If you suffer from arthritis, you are in good company. The National Institutes of Health estimates that about one out of every five Americans today have some form of this condition, which causes inflammation of the joints and can make it painful to complete your activities, depending on the severity and type of your symptoms.

Some patients with certain types of arthritis find that following a special diet or making strategic nutritional changes can help them feel better, but the latest word from the medical field is that what you eat isn’t proven to cure your symptoms. Nonetheless, most nutritionists stress that eating a healthy diet and staying within the recommended weight guides is indeed an important step for everyone.

The Role of Diet

Many arthritis sufferers hold on to the belief that food has some special cure-all properties to counteract some of the discomfort that comes along with the disease. But while eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, lean meats and antioxidants can be said to reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease and a host of other health conditions, there doesn’t seem to be any medical proof at this point that the foods themselves will make the inflammation caused by your arthritis lessen to any significant extent.

Therefore, experts warn patients of the risk of getting roped into trying some of the popular “fad” diets and nutritional supplements that are advertised to cure arthritis. Further, rheumatologists point out that many arthritis patients can actually experience harmful effects if they don’t receive the proper nutrition in their diet. So while eating well helps, it is ill-advised to try any dramatic or expensive eating plans in the hopes this will cure your symptoms.

Lose Extra Pounds

If you are overweight, though, what you eat can make a difference. This is because the pounds are putting extra strain on your joints and likely increasing your pain. Therefore, your best bet is to avoid excessive calories that offer little nutritional value and instead opt for fruits and vegetables to help you achieve, and maintain, a healthy weight.

Keep Realistic Expectations

While some arthritis patients (particularly those with rheumatoid arthritis) seem to have deficiencies in certain vitamins, there is not yet enough scientific data available to show if increasing your intake of certain antioxidants will make you feel better.  More research is currently being conducted to better understand the arthritis and diet connection. The best general guidelines suggest managing your condition through a range of approaches, including eating well, staying in shape and taking your medication as prescribed.

Further, until more solid conclusions are obtained, you should look to your doctor for guidance in your specific case.