What Foods to Eat for Arthritis – And Which Ones to Avoid
If you deal with arthritis, you probably know that this can be a condition that is anything but pleasant to live with. While it cannot be cured, its symptoms can be managed through a variety of treatments, including diet and lifestyle habits. Here you’ll learn more about what arthritis is, what foods to eat for arthritis and what foods to avoid to help you manage this condition so you can start feeling better asap.
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a disease involving your joints. It often involves swelling, inflammation, and stiffness in the joints, which can limit mobility and cause pain for people who are affected. While anyone can get arthritis, it is most common in women and older adults. Unfortunately, arthritis affects millions of American adults and thousands of children each year and is the leading cause of disability in America.
There are over 100 different types of arthritis, but some of the most common include:
- Osteoarthritis (OA). This is the most common form. It occurs from persistent wear and tear of the joints, most often in the hands, hips, and knees. In OA, the cartilage in the joints begins to break down and the bone underneath begins to change.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This is an autoimmune disease, which occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells in your body. In RA, the joints are affected, causing the lining of the joint to become inflamed. This leads to damaged joint tissue which can cause chronic pain, unsteadiness, and deformity of the affected parts. The hands, wrists, and knees are most often affected in RA.
- Gout. This is another inflammatory form of arthritis that occurs from too much uric acid in your body. Having a buildup of uric acid happens when your body does not properly break down food compounds called purines. Gout mostly affects the big toe, but can also occur in other toes, knees, and ankles and leads to pain, swelling, redness, and heat.
What Foods To Eat For Arthritis – Top Ten:
No matter what type of arthritis you have, there are many delicious foods you can eat to help manage the symptoms and possibly prevent your symptoms from worsening. These include:
1 – Turmeric
This spice contains the compound curcumin, which has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Studies show it helps in the management of inflammatory conditions, including arthritis. Consuming turmeric along with black pepper can increase its ability to be used by your body, thus producing greater benefits.
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2 – Fatty fish
Fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, and trout provide an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, well-known for their anti-inflammatory benefits. Studies have found fish oil to help reduce pain, swelling, and tenderness in joints. The American Heart Association recommends eating fatty fish at least twice per week to take advantage of its beneficial anti-inflammatory properties. However, keep in mind that some types of fish are high in purines, which can worsen gout symptoms, so check with your doctor first if you have that condition. If so, taking an omega-3 supplement may be a better option for you.
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3 – Nuts and seeds
These are the basis of any anti-inflammatory diet, thanks to their unsaturated fats. They are also loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that benefit many other aspects of your health. Walnuts are particularly beneficial since they have the highest omega-3 content and have been shown to lower blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation linked to increased risk of arthritis.
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4 – Collagen
This is one of the most abundant proteins in your body. It helps build joint cartilage and may help reduce inflammation. Studies have found collagen to improve joint pain and support the regrowth of cartilage in the body, to benefit all types of arthritis. Collagen can be found in select foods such as meats eaten off the bone, eggs, and bone broth, and it can also be taken as a supplement. You can read more about collagen in this post.
5 – Berries
Berries are among the richest sources of antioxidants, which help fight inflammation and protect your cells from damage. They also provide the plant compound quercetin, which research shows can help protect against arthritis and improve its symptoms.
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6 – Broccoli
Broccoli benefits arthritis in many ways. It is a good source of vitamin C, which supports collagen production for joints. It also contains a plant compound called sulforaphane, which slows down the destruction of cartilage in joints and can reduce the pain associated with arthritis.
7 – Olive oil
This staple of the Mediterranean diet is loaded with healthy, unsaturated fats. Research has also found that it contains a plant compound called oleocanthal, which possesses similar anti-inflammatory properties to those of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen.
8 – Whole grains
Like nuts and seeds, research shows that diets rich in whole grains help lower levels of CRP, thus reducing the inflammation that occurs in arthritis. Examples of whole grains include products made from whole wheat and oats, quinoa, barley, farro, and brown rice.
9 – Green tea
Green tea is loaded with antioxidants called EGCG as well as polyphenols, which have been shown to help prevent bone loss and the breakdown of joints that occurs in arthritis.
10 – Beans
Beans are loaded with fiber, plant-based protein, and a slew of vitamins and minerals. They have been shown to particularly benefit rheumatoid arthritis but can help all types.
What Foods Should You Avoid With Arthritis?
Since inflammation is at the root of arthritis, it is best to avoid foods that worsen inflammation.
Foods to limit or avoid include:
- Added sugars
- Highly processed and fried foods
- Fast foods
- Processed meats like hot dogs, pastrami, and bologna
- Vegetable oils like corn oil, canola oil, soybean oil, and sunflower oil, or any foods prepared using them
- Foods high in purines (if you have gout), such as red meat and shellfish
Your diet can play a significant role in the development, severity, and symptoms of arthritis. Making positive changes to your diet can help complement other treatments in arthritis management.