Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory form of spinal arthritis affecting the spine and large joints. The medical condition causes discomfort, pain, and inflammation in the lower back and might even cause the bones in the spine to fuse together if left unchecked. Not getting treated at the right time can result in loss of flexibility in the spine, a hunched back, and troubled breathing. Early diagnosis, the right type of ankylosing spondylitis diet/ankylosing spondylitis treatment diet, and physical exercise can help in curbing the medical condition and stop it from becoming severe.

Causes of Ankylosing Spondylitis

There has been no specific cause found for causing ankylosing spondylitis. However, there are certain risk factors that are linked to the illness. The risk factors are-

  1. The HLA-B27 gene: If anyone has a history of ankylosing spondylitis in their family along with the presence of the HLA-B27 protein in their genes, then the risk factor is higher. A 2002 study states that over 90% percent of people who have been diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis have HLA-B27 protein present in their gene. However, it was also concluded that there might be other genes involved as well because even though 8% of American had this protein in their genes, only 1 out of 20 people ever get spondylitis.
  2. Age: The Spondylitis Association of America came to the conclusion from a study that over 80% of people are diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis before the age of 30, while 5% are diagnosed after the age of 45.
  3. Gender: It was found only until recently that ankylosing spondylitis affected women as much as  men. However, women are known to have less severe symptoms. Nevertheless, studies suggest that, men have a greater risk of being affected by this medical condition.
  4. Ethnicity: According to research, it was discovered that there was an increased risk of ankylosing spondilytis in more than 95% of the Caucasian population.
  5. Frequent intestinal infections: Inflammatory intestinal infections have been directly linked to ankylosing spondylitis for some time in medical history. According to research, it was suggested that frequent bacterial infections inside the digestive system triggered the genes that was responsible for causing ankylosing spondylitis

The symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis, in some cases, if left unchecked, might get worse over time, however, in others, it might improve or completely be cured. Nevertheless, with the right ankylosing spondylitis diet and treatment plan the symptoms and complications can be controlled or reduced.


When ankylosing spondylitis becomes severe, new bones are formed in a patient’s body as the body’s attempt to heal it. As a result this new bone starts bridging between vertebrae, thus fusing some sections and causing stiffness or lack of flexibility in those parts. Other than this, there are further complications that might result from ankylosing spondylitis, which are as follows.

  • Eye inflammation (uveitis): This is one of the most common complications caused due to ankylosing spondylitis which results in rapid-onset eye pain, blurred vision, and sensitivity to light.
  • Heart problems: Ankylosing spondylitis also affects the aorta, the largest artery in our body, causing it to inflame and enlarge to a point that it distorts the shape of the aortic valve in the heart, thus impairing its function. Hence, in brief, ankylosing spondylitis causes heart problems.
  • Compression fractures: During the early stages of ankylosing spondylitis, certain patients may experience the thinning of their bones. Since, ankylosing spondylitis affects the spine mainly, it means a weakened vertebra, increasing the severity of a person’s stooped posture. Vertebral fractures can cause injury to the spinal cord as well as the nerves that pass through the spine.

The Ankylosing Spondylitis Diet

The suggested ankylosing spondylitis diet/ ankylosing spondylitis treatment diet for patients is similar to the healthy diet plan that is recommended to maintain a healthy weight, reduce intestinal inflammation, and to keep the heart fit. Here is a look at some of the foods to eat and to avoid to keep ankylosing spondylitis in control.

Foods to eat

  1. Whole grains: This food category is high in fibre and nutrients which in turn can aid in reducing inflammation. Foods in this category are brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, and corn to name a few.
  2. Colourful fruits and vegetables: Colourful fruits and vegetables are recommended as a part of an ankylosing spondylitis diet due to the presence of high antioxidant content in them. It helps in protecting the cells from free radicals and  substances responsible for causing intestinal inflammation.
  3. Omega-3 fatty acids: Found in cold water fish or fish oil supplements, Omega-3 fatty acids also help in preventing inflammation, thus protecting your heart as well as spine.
  4. Calcium and vitamin D supplements: Ankylosing spondylitis is known to be responsible for limiting movements in the spinal cord, which might result in osteoporosis. This is why patients are advised to add calcium or vitamin D supplements to their diet after consulting the doctor/nutritionist.

Foods to avoid

  1. High fat or cholesterol foods: According to the Arthritis Foundation, foods with saturated fats, trans fats, and Omega-6 fatty acids should be avoided altogether since they are high in cholesterol and are known to promote inflammation, thus resulting in heart disease.
  2. Sugar and high-sodium foods: Sugar and salt along with other high sodium foods should be avoided since they produce a type of inflammatory cell that could risk your health.
  3. Red meat: Avoiding the consumption of red meat altogether can help reduce the symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis while also keeping the health of your heart and stomach in check.
  4. Starch: Studies for ankylosing spondylitissuggest that there are certain types of bacteria that triggers the medical condition. Starch was found to aggravate the situation because starch feeds those bacteria.
  5. Alcohol: Alcohol consumption is known to affect bone health and cause osteoporosis. This is why the ankylosing spondylitis diet suggests patients to limit or completely avoid alcohol.

In Conclusion

It can be a daunting experience for anyone to be diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis. Without professional help and advice a patient could be confused about the treatment and care to be taken at this time. HCAH has a team of certified home physiotherapists  to help you deal with the medical condition and receive comfort as you journey through the condition. Reach out to us today for a complete diagnosis, treatment, and diet suggestions to help you fight ankylosing spondylitis. To speak with an expert or book a home visit, call 1800-102-4224 (toll-free).


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