Ankylosing Spondylitis and Diet

Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) is a type of arthritis that falls under the Spondyloarthritis group of diseases. Male between age group of 20-30 years are commonly affected by AS. The symptoms include lower back pain with early morning stiffness, most of the patients have spine involvement and pain improved with exercises. The cause of AS is still unknown, but the scientists believed that the interplay between genetic, environmental and immune system triggers the disease symptoms.

Diet falls in the category of environment, thus it is an important question among doctors, scientists and patients whether dietary habits affect the AS or increase or decrease the severity of disease.

Limited number of studies are available that have addressed the above question. Literature show no association of disease severity parameters with the intake of dairy products, high fat, salt and fast food consumption. In one study 78% of AS patients (n=87) believed that diet influences the symptoms and reported that disease worsened when they took specific diet items such as meat, coffee, sugar, citrus fruits and apple. Intake of high starch in diet is reported to increase the severity of disease in one study while in another study no effect was seen.

Studies in small group of AS patients has shown that consumption of low starch diet (n=36) and excluding dairy products (25) from daily diet alleviate the symptoms of AS. However, validation study in larger group is still needed.

So, there is no significant answer for the effect of diet on AS patient’s disease course. Moreover, rheumatologist doesn’t suggest any diet change to the patients.

In conclusion, as back bone is affected in this disease so taking food rich in calcium and vitamin D helps in preventing structural damage. Further a healthy diet including fresh vegetables and fruits are usually recommended.