While there is no quick fix to reducing arthritis pain, research indicates that diet plays a role in joint pain. Some foods have been shown to reduce the inflammation that causes joint pain – while other foods have been shown to make the pain worse. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Fruits and vegetables naturally contain powerful antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation. Fruits and vegetables with lots of color appear to be very good sources of antioxidants. This includes: spinach, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, carrots, kale, butternut squash, apricots, tangerines, red peppers, oranges, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, cranberries, cherries, etc. Eating several servings each day is recommended.
- Eating more Omega-3 fish oils are also recommended. Tuna, salmon, rainbow trout, and anchovies are good sources. If you don’t like eating fish at least twice a week, fish oil supplements are available.
- While you are eating more fish, eat less red and processed meat! Researchers recently determined that significant meat consumption is associated with increased likelihood of degenerative arthritis and symptoms in both women and men.
- A bit of red wine might be a good thing to reduce inflammation. Check with your doctor to ensure it does not conflict with other medical treatment, but no more than one drink of red wine per day for women (two drinks a day for men).
- Sugar and other high-carbohydrate foods are associated with inflammatory response. Avoiding sugary foods and simple carbohydrates (jams, honey, fruit drinks, soft drinks, syrup, etc.) may produce less joint pain.
- Consider adding turmeric and ginger to meals. There are some small studies that indicate these are associated with anti-inflammatory properties. One indicated that controlled doses of turmeric worked as well as ibuprofen (Motrin for example). There are also some studies that suggest the active compound in turmeric (curcumin) may have some anti-inflammatory effects beyond joints and within neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s. There is likely little harm in sprinkling or including some of this spice in your food, however – a word of caution as well. Turmeric can also act as a blood thinner. Do not use it if you are already on blood thinner medication, have gallbladder issues, about to have surgery, or are pregnant. Consult your physician. Also realize that while spices have been a part of diets for centuries, scientific research on the topic continues to explore the medical benefits.
Of course, extra weight also stresses joints. Each pound of body weight lost can equate to a four-pound reduction on your knee joint. And just plain emotional stress can aggravate pain as well. Make sure to get exercise or relaxation to help alleviate stress. Finally, following a healthy diet is always a good idea!
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