by Tracey Kellett, Registered Nutritionist
20 October is World Fruit and Vegetable Day, which is celebrated by 30 nations of AIAM5, a global Alliance of Associations that promotes fruit and vegetable consumption and the 5-a-day movement.
At this time of year, when the variety of in-season vegetables increases, we urge you to come back to basics and pick up simple habits to eat more fruit and vegetables to reduce inflammation and live a healthy life. This year’s theme is “Eat Fruits and Vegetables. More Hydration. More Life.”
Hydration is essential in many of our body’s key functions, such as transporting nutrients to cells, getting rid of wastes, keeping joints lubricated, protecting organs, preventing infections, and maintaining body temperature. For people with Gout Arthritis, water helps the kidneys get rid of serum uric acid, a compound in the body that is high in people with gout and causes gout attacks. Being well-hydrated also improves focus, mood, and sleep quality—the New Zealand Eating and Activity Guidelines recommend that men have 3.4L of water per day and women have 2.8L of water per day. Around 20% of our water intake is from food.
Of all foods, vegetables provide the most water by weight; sometimes, they are over 90% water. Some extra watery vegetables in season in October are celery, cucumber, courgettes, lettuce, watercress, bok choy, tomatoes, and radishes. Very watery fruits include watermelon, rockmelon, strawberries, grapefruit, peaches, nashi, blackberries and papaya.
These watery vegetables also provide good amounts of potassium, which helps to regulate sodium, which helps to maintain hydration and lower blood pressure. They are good sources of vitamin C, which preserves bone and may protect cartilage cells. Bok choy and other cruciferous vegetables contain sulforaphane, which has been shown to block the inflammatory process in mice and might slow cartilage damage in Osteoarthritis.
Fruits and vegetables are vital in living a healthy life and reducing disease risk. All contain antioxidants that help fight oxidative stress in the body, leading to inflammation and a marker in many chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and arthritis.
Food for people with arthritis
While there is no specific diet for arthritis, the Mediterranean diet and eating in an anti-inflammatory way will include many vegetables and fruit in your diet. The New Zealand Eating and Activity Guidelines updated in 2020 recommend the following servings of fruit and vegetables for adults in New Zealand:
In 2018/19, only around half of all New Zealand adults ate the recommended quantities of either vegetables or fruit, and only one-third ate the recommended amounts of both. Fruit and vegetables have a positive influence on gut health, which is important for everyone, especially for those with inflammatory arthritis such as Psoriatic Arthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. Eating lots of fruit and vegetables helps to keep you full and maintain a healthy weight, too. To learn more about healthy eating, visit our website, Nutrition and Arthritis.
Ana Arias, Gumersindo Feijoo, Maria Teresa Moreira, Exploring the potential of antioxidants from fruits and vegetables and strategies for their recovery, Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies, Volume 77, 2022, 102974, ISSN 1466-8564, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ifset.2022.102974.
Cara L. Frankenfeld, Meredith A.J. Hullar, Gertraud Maskarinec, Kristine R. Monroe, John A. Shepherd, Adrian A. Franke, Timothy W. Randolph, Lynne R. Wilkens, Carol J. Boushey, Loïc Le Marchand, Unhee Lim, Johanna W. Lampe, The Gut Microbiome Is Associated with Circulating Dietary Biomarkers of Fruit and Vegetable Intake in a Multiethnic Cohort, Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Volume 122, Issue 1, 2022, Pages 78-98, ISSN 2212-2672, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2021.05.023.