Juvenile Arthritis Friendly Diet For a Child #A2ZChallenge

If you thought that only adults suffered from arthritis then you are wrong. There are children who suffer from this as well and they don’t have it easy. For them, it is a dependency on medicines along with a restriction on their active life and giving up their favourite food.

Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis also goes by the names Juvenile chronic polyarthritis, Juvenile idiopathic arthritis and Stills disease. This is a very common type of arthritis found in children below 16 years of age and sometimes evident as early as 6 months. This may come as a surprise that how can children suffer from this since they are active and growing. Thus the condition is often undiagnosed in children and often confused with growing pains. I had a friend in school who always complained of stiffness and pain in joints. Come winters and she would become stiff as a stick. Years later we came to know that she had arthritis which was not diagnosed earlier.

In India, more than 1 in 1000 children are affected by Juvenile Arthritis. Click To Tweet

How to Recognise Juvenile Arthritis:

Juvenile Arthritis, autoimmune disease is mostly caused by a combination of environmental and genetic factors along with an immune system that functions poorly. The symptoms of this vary from child to child, however, they include:

  • Inflammation of the joints
  • Pain in joints
  • Stiffness in the joints especially after getting up in the morning
  • A characteristic limp when the child walks (more common in younger children)
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Weight Loss

When a child undergoes these discomforts it is likely that they do not eat a healthy diet since they have no inclination towards food. When they don’t eat the body does not get the required nutrition and this leads to impaired growth.

Diet of a Child With Juvenile Arthritis:

As such, there is no particular diet that a child with JA should follow. However, a balanced diet which comprises of proteins, vitamin D, fibre and healthy oils is one that is recommended. It is important to keep in mind whether the foods have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Foods that are sugary or salty increase inflammation and should be avoided.

Vitamin D: This helps in controlling the inflammation. The vitamin is actually a hormone which is produced in the body by sunlight. It is converted to its active form at two places, one in the liver and then in the kidneys. The active form of this vitamin helps in the absorption of calcium from the intestines and in turn is necessary for the formation of strong bones. When the body becomes deficient in vitamin D the levels of phosphate and calcium are not maintained. This leads to the other hormones to release phosphate and calcium from bones to the bloodstream, thus resulting in loss of bone.

Children who have been prescribed corticosteroids for the symptoms of juvenile arthritis are at a higher risk of developing vitamin D deficiency. This leads to a decrease in bone density, thereby, putting these children at a higher risk of osteoporosis. This deficiency can be balanced by using Vitamin D supplements.

Foods which reduce inflammation: A diet which is rich and colourful like most of the vegetables and fruits should be the main occupant on the child’s plate. These foods are not only rich with protective compounds like polyphenols and antioxidants they also help reducing inflammation. Foods like spinach, broccoli, strawberries, healthy fats, black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, salmon, tuna, whole wheat bread, onions and lentils are found to be protective against inflammation.

Spices: Spices like turmeric are often effective in treating inflammation. This is because of the active compound curcumin found in turmeric which helps to reduce inflammation. Another spice which helps to reduce inflammation is ginger. This is also helpful in dealing with the side effects like stomach pain and nausea related to the medication.

Foods to avoid: The foods which are typically found in the middle aisles of grocery stores should be avoided. These are foods that are processed and packaged, basically junk food. Chips, candies, sugary snacks, cereals, sodas, pizza, ready to eat meals, fried foods, cakes and cookies are a big no-no.

Opting for a diet that is anti-inflammatory is easy. The offsets of Juvenile Arthritis can be maintained by choosing whole foods, fresh vegetables, foods rich in folic acid rather than the easy to make packaged meals. Do keep in mind that each time you add or eliminate a food item or supplement, it is mandatory to keep the child’s doctor in the loop. They can help by bridging nutritional gaps and treating side effects caused due to medication.

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Shubhra Rastogi Written by:

Well, about me I can say that I am a certified dentist, healthcare analyst, medical writer and above all a mother of a 6-year-old. Most of my day to day activities revolve around her and she is my inspiration to start this blog. As a mother, I experimented with a lot of new things for my little one in a quest to find the best for her. I just want to share my experiences of being a happy and content mum.

26 Comments

  1. April 11, 2019
    Reply

    Never heard about this. It is difficult to recognize symptoms in kids especially when they are something like joint pain Because they won’t be able to find out what exactly is happening with them,

    • Shubhra Rastogi
      April 11, 2019
      Reply

      Yes, it can be very difficult for children to know their symptoms since they cannot convey the same. But yes they become cranky and limping is characteristic of small children.

  2. April 11, 2019
    Reply

    It is indeed news to me that even children can have arthritis. I always associated it with old people. This is a very good article with mentioning the diet and the causes like Vitamin D deficiency that lead to loss of bone and cause Arthritis in Juveniles.

    • Shubhra Rastogi
      April 11, 2019
      Reply

      Thanks. Yes, many times JA is undiagnosed in children since people think how they can get affected by this.

  3. April 11, 2019
    Reply

    Arthritis is terrible at any age. In juvenile it is much worse. Because it sort of restrains activity and the whole life is ahead of the kids. Fortunately, there are medicines available that work most of the time. Some of these are tablets and others are injectable monoclonal antibodies. While tablets are relatively cheap., antibody can be expensive.

    • Shubhra Rastogi
      April 11, 2019
      Reply

      Yes, the antibody injections can be pretty expensive.

  4. April 11, 2019
    Reply

    I had no idea about this. This sounds so scary, imagining such little ones being in this kind of pain, restricting their movements. Informative and useful post.

    • Shubhra Rastogi
      April 11, 2019
      Reply

      Thank you!

  5. April 11, 2019
    Reply

    Great topic since many don’t realize this and may think their child is having growing pains. My younger sister had JRA when she was about 3-4 years old (she’s 60 now). I remember her crying out in pain when she was touched. The only way to get her around was in a little folding lawn chair. Thankfully it left within a year and she’s been fine since.

    • Shubhra Rastogi
      April 11, 2019
      Reply

      Yes it can be really painful. Thank God your sister is better now

  6. Rob Swanson
    April 11, 2019
    Reply

    We thought my daughter had this. She didn’t but we know people who have this. Horrible disease.

    • Shubhra Rastogi
      April 11, 2019
      Reply

      I am glad that your daughter does not have it. It is indeed a horrible disease where the children suffer a lot.

  7. April 11, 2019
    Reply

    This is something i am definitely reading for the first time…. Very well presented article Shubhra… These are times, my heart is filled with gratitude…. We have so many blessings in our lives…

    • Shubhra Rastogi
      April 11, 2019
      Reply

      Aptly said Kushal

  8. Rashi Roy
    April 11, 2019
    Reply

    This was an eye opener for me. Had no idea about it. So glad you came up with this useful post.

    • Shubhra Rastogi
      April 11, 2019
      Reply

      Thank you Rashi

  9. Priyanka Nair
    April 11, 2019
    Reply

    Very informative and useful post, I was not aware about this.

    • Shubhra Rastogi
      April 11, 2019
      Reply

      Thanks Priyanka

  10. April 11, 2019
    Reply

    An eye-opener for sure.Thanks for the in-depth analysis.

    • Shubhra Rastogi
      April 11, 2019
      Reply

      U are welcome. Thanks for visiting by

  11. April 11, 2019
    Reply

    I never knew this can happen to children too. thank you for this detailed post.

    • Shubhra Rastogi
      April 11, 2019
      Reply

      Welcome Vidya

  12. April 11, 2019
    Reply

    I used to handle anti-arthritic brand in Unichem, so am aware of Juvenile Arthritis. It can be such a painful condition for children. Thanks for a detailed and informative post, Shubhra!

    • Shubhra Rastogi
      April 12, 2019
      Reply

      Yes, it is can be very painful for children.

  13. April 13, 2019
    Reply

    I had no idea that even young children can develop arthritis. Very informative post.

    • Shubhra Rastogi
      April 14, 2019
      Reply

      Yes they can… thanx for reading

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