Certain foods may help ease joint pain and improve bone health

By the time my grandmother was 50 years old, her arthritis was so bad she wouldn’t be able to bend her knees for the rest of her life. Luckily, we’ve come a long way since then. Now, there are anti-inflammatories, cortisone injections, fluid injections and joint replacements providing relief and mobility for millions of arthritis sufferers.

Beyond pharmaceutical and surgical remedies, many of the thumbs-up foods for arthritis relief are standard parts of the Mediterranean diet, which features healthy fruits, vegetables and oils. This type of regimen is associated with an overall healthy lifestyle.

Here are a number of foods that may be valuable allies in the fight against arthritis:

Fatty fish – Salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring and other deep-water fatty fish contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation. Animal research has also shown that fish oil supplements may be beneficial to bones and cartilage.

Oils – Extra virgin olive oil contains high levels of omega-3s and compounds that may switch off genes that cause inflammation. Oleocanthal, which is found in olive oil, is similar to certain anti-inflammatory drugs. Walnut oil is invaluable, too; it has 10 times the amount of omega-3s as olive oil.

eating a green appleApples – Eve’s favorite fruit contains bioactive components that can reduce the production of molecules that trigger inflammation. In a recent study, women who ate three-quarters of a cup of dried apples every day experienced a 32 percent reduction in C-reactive protein (CRP) – a key marker of inflammation – after just six months. Apple cider vinegar is frequently touted as a viable alternative for arthritis relief, but opinions vary in the scientific community.

Dairy While sometimes thought to be bad for arthritis, low-fat dairy products contain large amounts of calcium and vitamin D, which increase bone strength. Some research has also shown that milk can help prevent gout, an arthritic condition caused by an excess buildup of uric acid.

Cherries – Enjoy these for their anti-inflammatory anthocyanins, which are also found in other red and purple fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.

broccoli_240Broccoli – This leafy nutritional friend contains sulforaphane, a compound shown in clinical studies to help prevent or slow the progression of osteoarthritis. It also contains plenty of bone-building calcium.

Green tea – Sip this healthy brew to treat your joints to polyphenols, a type of antioxidant thought to reduce inflammation and slow down the destruction of cartilage.

Citrus fruits – There’s a commonly believed fallacy that the citric acid in oranges, grapefruits and limes can attack the joints. Research actually shows that the high levels of vitamin C in these fruits may help prevent inflammatory arthritis symptoms and maintain joints affected by osteoarthritis.

Beans – The fiber in beans isn’t just good for our digestive systems; it also helps lower our CRP. Beans are versatile options for brightening up many meals.  Red beans, kidney beans and pinto beans are good choices. Soybeans and tofu are also inflammation fighters.

garlic-300Garlic – A compound called diallyl disulphide in garlic may limit the action of enzymes in human cells that damage cartilage.

Nuts – They’re packed with protein, calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin E, immune-boosting alpha linolenic acid and  fiber. Walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios and almonds are featured on this menu.

The potential benefits vary depending on the type of arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis, for example, is a disorder in which the body’s own immune system attacks the joints. A hallmark of this condition is inflammation, which may affect the entire body. Osteoarthritis is the more common version, and usually relates to deterioration in the joints due to use over time.

There are also a number of guidelines to keep in mind for symptom flare-ups in rheumatoid arthritis. You should avoid processed foods in general, and be sure to consume lots of greens. Spices such as turmeric and ginger can also help – and they add zesty flavor to many dishes.

Of course, the list above doesn’t encompass every food that might deserve placement on a plate for people with arthritis. And you may have other dietary issues that need to be considered. Be sure to check with your healthcare practitioner or nutritionist about your arthritic condition before making any dramatic changes in your diet.

Happy dining!


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