As a chronic condition, arthritis cannot be cured completely. However, there are a number of ways that you can manage your symptoms and control your pain, and one such method is by modifying your diet. Joint inflammation plays a major role in the symptoms of arthritis, and the things you eat can have a big impact how inflamed you are.
When developing your arthritis diet, it’s important to remember that this is not a quick or complete fix for your condition. However, with persistence, you may find that making these diet modifications has an important impact on managing your arthritis symptoms. Here's what you need to know about the best foods for arthritis pain.
Foods to Include
When creating an arthritis-friendly diet, be sure to include some, if not all, of the following foods. They have powerful inflammation-fighting properties that may be able to help reduce the pain associated with the condition.
- Fatty fish—Fatty varieties of fish, such as salmon, can make a great addition to your diet. The omega-3 fatty acids found in this type of fish help suppress cytokines in the body, which is a type of chemical that can cause inflammation in arthritis patients. In addition to being great for arthritis, omega-3s are important for maintaining heart health as well.
- Colorful fruits and veggies—Almost every variety of fruit and vegetable available is chock full of antioxidants, which are important for keeping free radicals in check. Free radicals are damaged cells within your body that have been shown to cause signs of aging and, more importantly, inflammation. However, with enough fresh produce in your diet, you can ensure that your body has the antioxidants it needs to protect itself. When choosing produce, go for as much color as possible—fruits and vegetables that are dark red, purple, or blue have some of the highest concentration of antioxidants.
- Whole grains—Most people know that whole grains are important for heart and digestive health, but they can also be great for dealing with arthritis as well. In addition to reducing levels of c-reactive protein, another chemical known to cause inflammation, whole grains are also lower in sugar than refined varieties. Since sugar is another inflammation culprit, reducing your intake to lower levels may prove to be beneficial.
Foods to Avoid
In addition to seeking out inflammation-busting foods, you should also do your best to avoid foods that may make inflammation and arthritis symptoms worse. Here are a few examples of such foods. As you’ll notice, most of these foods are considered unhealthy for a whole host of reasons in addition to inflammation.
- Refined sugar—Almost all of the processed foods we eat contain additional refined sugar to make them more appetizing. However, all this excess sweet goodness can cause serious inflammation—especially if you’re eating it every day. To help reduce your intake, consider cooking more of your meals from scratch so you have complete control over how much sugar gets included.
- Whole-fat milk—As mentioned earlier, c-reactive protein is a specific form of the nutrient that can cause inflammation. Unfortunately, there are very high levels of this chemical in whole milk and other products (such as cheese) that are made with whole milk. If you can’t imagine giving up dairy entirely, consider making the switch to skim milk instead—it’s c-reactive levels are much lower.
- Salt—Like sugar, there is way too much salt in many of the foods we eat today. Excess salt consumption has been shown specifically to increase inflammation of the joints, and that spells trouble for people with arthritis. To keep your salt levels in check, it’s best to follow the same advice as dealing with sugar—cook from scratch in order to control how much salt gets used.