When people think of health care options for arthritis and other joint-related medical issues, they tend to think of medication, medical procedures and various ways of alleviating pain and discomfort. One thing that people seldom think of is food; however, what you eat can go a long way to reduce pain and the effects of arthritis.
Many health care professionals, as well as the Arthritis Society, believe the Mediterranean diet can help reduce the effects of this disease.
“By far the biggest impact of the Mediterranean diet is that it includes a healthy mix of foods at lower fat and calories than the typical North American diet, which can help people manage their weight,” says Douglas Emerson of the Arthritis Society in Global News.
This is only one of the dietary options that could help you. The key is to stick to a healthy diet and keep your body weight lower to lessen the impact on your joints.
“The bottom line,” Emerson says, “is make healthy food choices, eat in moderation, and discuss any health, diet or medication changes with your physician.”
Best foods for arthritis sufferers
There is no diet that can cure arthritis, but certain foods can help strengthen your immune system and bones, and reduce the effects of the disease. Here are the foods the Arthritis Foundation recommends that people with arthritis include in their diet:
- Fish: High in omega‑3 fatty acids, which help to reduce inflammation
- Broccoli: Rich in vitamins and sulphoraphane, which could help prevent the progression of osteoarthritis
- Soybeans: Also high in inflammation-reducing omega‑3 fatty acids
- Oils: Plant fats that are high in omega‑3 fatty acids include extra virgin olive oil, walnut oil and safflower oil
- Cherries: The anthocyanins in cherries (and other red, purple or blue fruits) are known to have anti-inflammatory effects
- Dairy: The vitamin D in dairy products helps strengthen bones and boost the immune system
- Green tea: High in polyphenols, which can help to reduce inflammation and slow down destruction of cartilage
- Nuts: Loaded with vitamins, minerals and healthy fats, nuts are good for your heart and maintaining a healthy weight
Foods to limit or avoid
Certain foods can aggravate arthritis symptoms, so they are best consumed in minimal amounts or avoided altogether. These include:
- Sugar and aspartame
- Saturated and trans fats
- Omega‑6 fatty acids (found in large amounts in many salad dressings, mayonnaise and certain oils, such as corn and vegetable oils)
- Refined carbohydrates (white rice and white flour products such as white bread and cereals)
“Cutting back on foods that promote inflammation, increasing the proportion of fruits and vegetables in your diet, making fish your main protein and getting more omega‑3s can make a big difference in your arthritis symptoms,” says the Arthritis Foundation.
Combining a dietary change along with medication, exercise and other health treatments as prescribed by your doctor can make living with arthritis more manageable.