Contributor: Christine Spiroch, PhD, PA-C
Many people don’t realize that simple modifications in their diet may help ease painful joints.
Arthritis is a problem of chronic inflammation, so choose foods that reduce inflammation before it starts. How do you do this? Remove inflammatory foods while adding others with anti-inflammatory effects. This is a simple, natural way to ease arthritis pain. It also complements other arthritis treatments, such as oral medications and injections.
What foods should I add?
These anti-inflammatory foods and spices support and nourish your body. They help to “lubricate” your joints:
- Fish – A key source of Omega-3 fatty acids
- Healthy oils – Try olive oil and/or walnut oil
- Spices and supplements – These are helpful in reducing inflammation. They include ginger, turmeric, fish oil, glucosamine, chondroitin, proteolytic enzymes, boswellia and white willow bark. Important: Be sure to discuss supplements with your doctor because some are not recommended if you have certain medical conditions or are taking certain medications.
What foods should I cut back on?
- Nightshades – This food group can aggravate the pain and inflammation of arthritis. It includes tomatoes, white potatoes, eggplant, pepper, paprika and tobacco.
- Gluten – Just following a gluten-free diet helps some patients experience less joint pain and inflammation. You can try reducing or eliminating all grains, and especially wheat, from your diet to see if it helps you.
- Allergy triggers – When patients test positive for food allergies, we may recommend an elimination diet to help rid the body of common allergens associated with pain and inflammation.
A word about inflammation
It’s interesting that inflammation is one of the body’s natural reactions to disease or injury. The pain, stiffness, and swelling are a result of this natural process. Simple changes in your diet may help calm this defensive process rather than masking the pain, as other remedies do.
Also, arthritis isn’t even just one or a few diseases. It’s an umbrella term for more than 100 diseases. These include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and gout. How these conditions affect people is quite varied. In addition, the effect of foods on people’s bodies varies. We do not live in a “one size fits all” world. So it is a good idea to work with your doctor to discuss which foods and supplements are right for you.