July 21, 2022 11:46 am
You were diagnosed with osteoarthritis in your knees a few years back, but lately the pain has worsened. Is there something you can do to ease the ache? What about a diet for arthritis?
The short answer is yes. While your diet in most cases won’t completely ease your discomfort and other arthritis-related symptoms, what you eat can make an impact.
To understand how food can help relieve arthritis symptoms, it’s important to first understand what arthritis is. While arthritis is often considered a singular condition, it’s actually an umbrella term encompassing a number of conditions with a single factor in common—they all cause inflammation around a joint or joints.
There are more than 100 conditions that fall into this category, and they all work in slightly different ways. Osteoarthritis, for example, is the most common type of arthritis and occurs due to wear and tear on the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is an autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack the joints, causing inflammation.
Because all types of arthritis cause inflammation, foods that reduce inflammation can be helpful.
Is There a Diet for Arthritis?
It’s important to note that there is no single diet that’s known as the “Arthritis Diet.” Instead, you can practice some healthy eating habits that may help reduce inflammation in the body and provide pain relief.
Start by eating a healthy diet overall. Limit your intake of saturated fat and instead turn to healthier unsaturated fats. Reduce the amount of sodium you’re eating and flavor foods with herbs and spices instead. Eat plenty of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. And trim down the amount of added sugar in the foods you eat.
Simply watching what you eat and moderating your portions can actually be helpful for relieving arthritis symptoms in some cases. That’s because some types of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis, can be exacerbated by being overweight or obese. The extra pressure put on the joints by extra weight can cause wear and tear more quickly.
How to Fill Your Plate
In addition to basic healthy eating habits, though, you can incorporate some specific foods into your diet that may help:
- Load up on fatty fish. Fatty fish like salmon and tuna contain a specific type of fat known as omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are considered inflammation fighters, and experts recommend eating two 3.5-ounce servings of fish each week. (Think you can get it from a supplement? These essential fatty acids are best absorbed through foods.)
- Incorporate soy. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you might benefit from eating soybean-rich tofu or edamame. These are a good alternative if you don’t love fish but want the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Eat all the berries and cherries. Cherries and other red/purple fruits like strawberries and blueberries contain what are known as anthocyanins, which have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Add in some milk and yogurt. If your body can handle dairy, it’s a good idea to regularly eat low-fat milk products. These products contain calcium and vitamin D, which help boost bone health and have been shown to decrease the effects of osteoarthritis in some studies. If dairy doesn’t agree with you, try leafy greens, which are also rich in vitamin D.
- Stock up on broccoli. Popeye might have turned to spinach, but if you’re looking to ease the symptoms of osteoarthritis, broccoli can be a great option. This veggie contains a compound called sulforaphane, which has been shown to slow joint damage related to osteoarthritis.
- Have a cup of (green) tea. Green tea contains polyphenols, a specific type of antioxidant known to reduce inflammation. Another antioxidant also found in green tea, epigallocatechin-3-gallate, is thought to reduce joint damage related to rheumatoid arthritis.
This post was written by Magnolia Regional Health Center