Joint pain can be caused by any number of conditions or injuries. Joint disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, are often characterized by inflammation and immune reactions that cause swelling, pain and deformity in the joints.
While there is no cure for arthritis, you can fight inflammation, strengthen bones and boost your immune system with a nutritious diet. Here are some foods to add to your balanced diet to help ease your pain and improve joint health.
Fish. Certain types of fish — such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and herring — are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which help fight inflammation. If you aren’t a fan of fish, soybeans (tofu or edamame) are an alternative source of omega-3s that are also low in fat and high in protein and fiber. Walnuts, pecans and ground flaxseed are also good sources of omega-3s.
Healthy oils. Extra virgin oil contains not only heart-healthy fats, but also oleocanthal, which can be as beneficial in relieving pain and inflammation. Other healthy oils include avocado oil, safflower oil and walnut oil.
Cherries. If you suffer from gout, add cherries and other red and purple fruits like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries to your diet. These berries contain anthocyanins that have an anti-inflammatory effect, and studies have shown that cherries help reduce the frequency of gout attacks.
Low-fat dairy. Milk, yogurt and cheese are packed with calcium and vitamin D, both of which are essential for bone health. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, which boosts bone strength. Leafy green vegetables are a great, non-dairy source of calcium and vitamin D.
Broccoli. Not only is broccoli a rich source of vitamins K and C, but it also contains sulforaphane, which has been found to slow the progression of osteoarthritis.
Green tea. Sip a cup of green tea a day for the polyphenols and antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation and slow cartilage decay. One particular antioxidant in green tea may also help block the production of molecules that cause joint damage in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Citrus fruits. Oranges, grapefruits and limes are rich in vitamin C to help maintain healthy joints.
Whole grains. Foods like oatmeal, brown rice and whole-grain cereals help to lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), which is a marker of inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
Beans. Packed with fiber, which also helps lower CRP, beans are an inexpensive and filling food source that can help fight pain associated with arthritis. Beans also contain protein, which is important for muscle health. Strong, healthy muscles provide the support needed for strong joints.
Nuts. Walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios and almonds are examples of nuts that are rich in protein, calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin E, protein and fiber. Eating small amounts of nuts as a snack can also help you lose weight, which will take added pressure off your joints.
These foods have long been recommended for weight loss and reducing risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, but they may also help ease your joint pain associated with arthritis.
It’s also important to keep in mind that while some foods can help reduce inflammation, other foods may trigger more inflammation in your body. Food ingredients to avoid include: refined sugar, saturated fats, trans fats, high amounts of omega-6 fatty acids, refined carbohydrates, MSG, gluten and casein, aspartame and alcohol.
By reducing your consumption of foods that promote inflammation and increasing consumption of foods that help fight inflammation, you should experience a noticeable difference in your arthritis symptoms.
At Goshen Health, we provide comprehensive and innovative bone and joint care designed to help patients get the most out of life. We specialize in both non-surgical and surgical solutions for your pain, depending on your individual needs. For more information about how we can treat your orthopedic pain, call 574.534.2548.