Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in America, with over 50 million adults and 300,000 children currently living with a diagnosis of joint pain or joint disease. It does not discriminate, affecting people of all ages, races, and genders. With symptoms ranging from moderate to severe, and coming and going, arthritis has the power to affect lives in major ways.
Leading treatments include a combination of medications, joint surgeries, and other natural remedies. While such treatments are imperative, a lifestyle change may also be in order. Increased physical activity, like swimming and taking walks around your neighborhood, and adjusting your diet not only decreases symptoms of arthritis, but also leads to improved overall health. Choosing foods that are high in protein and contain anti-inflammatory properties are your best bet for combating symptoms of arthritis. Whereas protein strengthens bones, making you less susceptible to injury, anti-inflammatories help to relieve joint pain.
An altered diet isn’t a life sentence lacking in flavor or satisfaction, but actually leads to prolonged energy, potential weight loss, a stronger immune system, and enjoying whole foods that are as tasty as they are beneficial to your health. To take the guessing out of an arthritis-friendly diet, we’ve rounded up 10 of the best ingredients to combat joint pain and benefit you in the end:
Fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation, making it one of the most recommended foods for those with arthritis. Eat fish, like salmon, mackerel, and herring, at least twice a week for the most benefits.
Berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries) and cherries contain Anthocyanins, which have an anti-inflammatory effect. Citrus fruits, on the other hand, are rich in vitamin C. Opt for citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, and limes.
- Low-Fat Dairy Products
Low-fat dairy products have proven benefits, given that they’re packed with calcium and vitamin D. Choose products like skim milk, low-fat yogurt, and hard cheeses.
One of the foods you were most reluctant to eat as a child also contains a compound called sulforaphane, which has proven to potentially prevent or slow down the progression of arthritis.
- Olive Oil
Olive oil contains heart-healthy fats and oleocanthal, which offer relief similar to that of anti-inflammatory drugs.
Beans are a great source of protein and fiber, also containing other beneficial heart health and immune system helpers like folic acid, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. Be wary of saltier options and choose red beans, kidney beans, or pinto beans instead.
- Whole Grains
Products such as oatmeal, whole-grain cereals, and brown rice are proven to reduce levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) in blood, which is a marker of inflammation linked with arthritis.
Containing a compound called diallyl disulphide, researchers believe garlic has the potential to limit cartilage-damaging enzymes. Used for a myriad of homeopathic treatments, garlic is also packed with anti-inflammatory properties.
While this spice has a centuries-long history of being used to prevent and treat inflammatory diseases, recent findings have proven that an included compound called curcumic can assist in managing inflammatory-related joint diseases.
Nuts, such as walnuts, pine nuts, almonds, and pistachios, are packed with calcium, magnesium, protein, and vitamin E. Filling and good for your immune system, nuts are also beneficial for weight loss.
Foods That Exacerbate Arthritis-Related Symptoms
Now that you are armed with the knowledge of the most beneficial foods for someone with an arthritis diagnosis, it’s also important to be informed regarding which foods to avoid. Understanding how inflammation exacerbates joint pain, along with other negative and unrelated symptoms, those with arthritis should decrease or cut out sugar, saturated and trans fats, refined carbohydrates, MSG, and alcohol from their diet.
Whole Foods for a Healthier Life
Ultimately, one of your greatest allies is a healthy lifestyle. Stick with whole, naturally produced meats, vegetables, and fruits. When planning your meals for the week, bring to mind the foods and ingredients mentioned above, then shop and cook with the confidence that the food you’re putting in your body is helping.
Which foods have you found to decrease your arthritis-related symptoms? Do you have any tried and true arthritis-friendly recipes? Please share in the comments section below!