The aches, the pain, the inflammation: People who experience arthritis and joint discomfort know all too well the symptoms associated with a flare-up. At PurMEDICA, we know that prescription and over-the-counter medications simply aren’t enough to bring your condition under control. After all, there is no cure for arthritis. However, studies have shown that improving your diet can actually reduce your symptoms and improve your condition. Try adding these 12 foods that ease arthritis and joint pain to your diet. Bonus: 4 plant extracts that are more powerful than some drugs.
1. Reconsider Dairy
Anyone with arthritis has probably been warned about the inflammation that dairy can cause. Hold that thought: Not all dairy products are the same. Low-fat items like yogurt, milk and some cheeses have plenty of Vitamin D and calcium, which work to build strong bones. If your system does not tolerate dairy well, then look to supplement your intake of calcium and Vitamin D with leafy green vegetables.
2. Use Oils in Cooking
If you have been throwing butter in the skillet, consider using a substitute such as extra virgin olive oil instead. Most oils have fats that are heart-friendly and have anti-inflammatory properties. If you are not a fan of olive oil, you can try walnut oil, avocado oil and safflower oil.
Soy has gotten a bad reputation, but the truth is that not all soy is bad. In fact, a little bit of soy can really help people who have joint pain. Heart-healthy food such as edamame and tofu are made from soybeans, which are low in fat and high in protein. Most importantly, they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help to fight inflammation. Soybeans also feature plenty of fiber and make for an ideal snack.
4. Whole Grains
Whole grains are excellent sources of a myriad of vitamins and minerals. For people with arthritis, one of the most important benefits of whole grains is their ability to help lower the levels of a substance know as C-reactive protein. This protein has been found to be a marker the kind of inflammation that is associated with rheumatoid arthritis as well as diabetes and heart disease. Choose whole grains like brown rice, oatmeal, barley and cornmeal.
Fish that are known for their omega-3 fatty acids are great for people who experience the aches and pains of arthritis. The fish that are best known for their anti-inflammatory properties include:
According to experts, you should eat about 4 ounces a fish as least twice a week. Try having a tuna salad sandwich at lunch one day and a piece of salmon with grilled vegetables at dinner another.
6. Citrus Fruits
You may already know that Vitamin C is great for your immune system, but did you know that it also helps to keep your joints healthy? Citrus fruits like grapefruits, limes and oranges have plenty of Vitamin C, which has been found to help prevent inflammatory arthritis. Add a piece of citrus fruit to your daily diet to get the full benefits.
Have a sweet tooth? Try eating some cherries! Cherries, which contain plenty of anthocyanins, have been shown to help limit the number of gout attacks people experience. This rich, red fruit can have an anti-inflammatory effect that is perfect for anyone who has joint pain flare-ups. Other fruits that are high in anthocyanins include blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and blueberries.
Foods that are in the allium family contain a compound known as diallyl disulphine. Garlic, leeks and onions are all rich in this substance, which works to limit the amount of cartilage-damaging enzymes that exist in cells. In fact, one study showed that people who regularly eat these foods had fewer symptoms of early osteoarthritis.
9. Green Tea
Researchers have found time and again that antioxidants called polyphenols are essential in reducing inflammation in your body. Green tea is loaded with polyphenols, which can also help to slow the destruction of cartilage often found in arthritic joints.
Green tea also contains another type of antioxidant known as EGCG, which works to prevent joint damage. EGCG actually keeps destructive molecules from forming in people who have rheumatoid arthritis.
Beans are loaded with fiber, which helps to reduce the amount of the C-reactive proteins we mentioned earlier. Depending on which type of bean you prefer, you can find varieties that also feature a myriad of vitamins such as potassium, zinc, folic acid and magnesium, all of which are great for boosting your heart function and your immune system. To boot, beans are very affordable and are a great source of protein, which helps your build muscles and keeps them strong.
A great side for your dinner plate or a fresh snack in the afternoon, broccoli is high in Vitamin K, calcium and Vitamin C. Additionally, it features a compound known as sulforaphane, which has been linked to slowing the progression of osteroarthritis.
There is no shortage of good stuff in nuts: protein, fiber, Vitamin E, magnesium, calcium and zinc, just to name a few. They can boost your immune system, help you lose weight and are heart-healthy. Brazil nuts, for example, have high levels of selenium, which help to control the free radicals that cause inflammation. Walnuts have omega-3 acids that also help to reduce flare-ups.
4 Other Natural Ways to Help Arthritis and Joint Pain
1. Devil’s Claw
A plant native to southern Africa, Devil’s Claw has been used to treat pain, liver and kidney problems, fever, and malaria, as well as being turned into an ointment for skin issues. The active ingredient in Devil’s Claw is iridoid glycosides, they have strong anti-inflammatory effects. Devil’s Claw can be found in powder form, tablets, teas, and extracts. Devil’s Claw is also commonly found in many Joint Pain relief supplements.
2. White Willow
Willow bark is similar to aspirin; used for headaches, muscle pain, menstrual cramps, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout - all ailments that include pain. Historically, White Willow Bark has been chewed on to receive its benefits. Luckily we don’t have to chew on bark to receive the benefits today. White Willow comes in powder form, as a dried herb, or liquid extract. Also, White Willow is included in joint pain supplements.
Ginger is a common herbal remedy for many health ailments. Studies have concluded ginger extract could be a substitute for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Ginger comes in liquid extract, capsules, teas, powders, oils, and foods. Also, a few table spoons of grated ginger works well. Ginger is a common herbal remedy for joint and muscle pain.
Turmeric’s active ingredient, curcumin, has been used for centuries to reduce pain and inflammation. Turmeric is found in many forms, such as a spice for cooking, teas, and powders. Turmeric and ginger teas are very popular; and can be found at most grocers. Many medical professionals believe Turmeric is more effective in alleviating swelling of joints than most drugs.
We recommend having a discussion with your doctor before adding any of these powerful natural plant extracts to your daily regimen. Supplements that combine these extracts can be a powerful force against joint pain.
Eating a diverse, balanced diet is a great way to ensure your body is getting the vitamins it needs to keep joint pain at bay. If you have deficiencies, you can also supplement with one of the products offered here at PurMEDICA. Try adding some of these foods to your daily diet, and hopefully your pain will begin to subside.