There are many conditions that cause inflammation and they can be completely debilitating. Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and gout account for thousands of lost work hours every year. And the cost in pain is much higher. Along with any medications your doctor prescribes you may be able to relieve some of your pain with inflammation fighting foods. But not every food is right for every type of arthritis.
There are no specific dietary/nutritional guidelines for people with Rheumatoid arthritis. But a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and phytochemicals provides powerful anti-inflammatory nutrients. Small studies were conducted to analyze the effects of a Mediterranean style diet consisting of fish, olive oil, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and beans. The results showed that there were improvements in pain, stiffness (especially morning stiffness), physical functions and disease activity.
Cold water fish high in omega-3s are particularly beneficial. And oleocanthal, a key compound in olive oil, has a significant impact on inflammation. It also helps reduce joint cartilage damage. And, just the way ibuprofen works oleocanthal prevents the production of COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes which are pro-inflammatory.
Green tea also significantly reduces the severity of arthritis. The tea causes changes in various immune responses. It blocks the production of molecules that cause joint damage. The International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases reported in May of 2015 on the superior anti-inflammatory effect of green tea when compared with black tea.
A high-fiber diet helps to reduce C-reactive protein which is a marker of inflammation associated with RA. A few excellent sources of fiber are oatmeal, brown and wild rice, barley, beans, and quinoa.
It’s true that milk does a body good. Arthritis Care & Research reported on a study in 2015 that women with knee OA who drank milk regularly had less progression of the disease than those who didn’t. Unfortunately, high cheese consumption appeared to make the condition worse. The group had significantly reduced pain and improved physical function.
A six-week intervention of 40 individuals with OA was reported in Arthritis in 2015. The subjects were placed on a plant-based diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.
A compound called sulforaphane found in Brussels sprouts and cabbage and especially in broccoli could be key in slowing the progression of OA and in the destruction of joint cartilage. This was reported by Arthritis and Rheumatism in 2013.
If you suffer from neuropathy as well as arthritis check out these food that fight neuropathic pain.
And the alium family (garlic, onions, and leeks) is very good for OA as well. Researchers think the compound diallyl disulphine found in these foods may limit cartilage-damaging enzymes in human cells thus making it a great choice if you have OA. A 2010 study in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders reported that people who regularly eat these foods showed fewer signs of early OA.
Of all the forms of arthritis, gout has the most obvious dietary link. When the body breaks down purine, a substance found in many foods, uric acid forms. People who have gout have trouble eliminating uric acid or they produce too much uric acid cause inflammation and severe pain in the joints.
A Mediterranean diet decreases uric acid levels and the risk of gout according to a study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology in 2012. Studies of certain key foods have been conducted as well. The anthocyanins in cherries have an anti-inflammatory effect researchers believe and may help reduce the frequency of gout attacks. Other red and purple fruits like blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries also contain anthocyanins. Tart cherries have higher levels so you may want to avoid them.
And researchers from Harvard Medical School confirm that consumption of coffee (but not tea) and low-fat dairy products are associated with lower uric acid levels. Over 14,000 participants in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey provided this data.
In addition to foods to add to your diet avoiding certain foods is also important if you suffer from gout. Meats (particularly beef, lamb, and pork), meat-based broths and gravies, most seafood (fish and shellfish), sugary soft drinks and foods with fructose increase uric acid levels. Alcohol intake, especially beer is strongly associated with increased risk of gout attacks.
Just as with osteoarthritis, eating foods rich in calcium helps protect your bones if you have osteoporosis. Low-fat dairy products, leafy green vegetables, shellfish, and foods fortified with calcium are beneficial. Foods high in Vitamin D like cheese, egg yolks, mackerel, salmon, and tuna are important since Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium.
Your body needs more Vitamin D than you can get from food but only 15 minutes of unprotected exposure to sunshine will allow your body to make 10,000 international units (IU) of this vitamin! Virgin olive oil combined with Vitamin D may protect against bone lose.
While you’re trying to eat foods that reduce inflammation here are some handy tips for cooking when you’re in pain.
Talk to your doctor about your diet and don’t stop, change dosage, or start any medication, including over the counter medicines without consulting your health care provider. This information is not medical advice!
Eating better foods for the inflammatory condition you have could help keep you feeling and moving better!