For many years, doctors regarded arthritis as the type of disease where once you had it, you were stuck with it. However, recent suggests that your food choices may be able to not only reduce arthritis when present, but may be able to prevent it.
What is arthritis?
Simply put, arthritis is the swelling and inflammation of the joints. There are over 100 types of arthritis, and they have various causes and treatment methods. Generally, arthritis affects people 65 years of age or older, women more-so than men, and people who are overweight. Common symptoms include joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. As it stands right now, there is no cure for arthritis per se, but there are several lifestyle changes and adjustments you can make to help reduce and treat any associated symptoms.
Antioxidants are substances that some feel may delay or stop the damage of cells due to oxidation. They are found in many foods, especially berries. While antioxidants alone won’t cure arthritis, many antioxidant-rich foods (when combined with a healthy lifestyle) can possibly aid in the prevention of joint issues. Antioxidant rich foods include:
- Red or Purple Grapes
However, don’t limit yourself to these options only! There are tons of foods that have been found to be antioxidants, and they can be easily integrated into almost any lifestyle.
The logic here is simple; the heavier you are, the harder your body has to work to move. The harder your body has to work to move, the more strain you put on your joints, which allows your movement. As your arthritis may be aggravated a result of obesity, losing weight may help alleviate some pain (in case you need another reason to maintain a healthy weight). According to a 2005 study in Arthritis & Rheumatism, overweight and obese adults with knee osteoarthritis found that losing one pound of weight resulted in four pounds of pressure being removed from the knees (Arthritis Foundation).
Foods that promote weight loss include:
- Whole Eggs
- Brussel Sprouts
- Lean Meat
- Chicken Breast
- Green Tea
- Many Soups
- Cottage Cheese
But again, don’t limit yourself! You can also explore these Leafy greens, fish, and fruits are generally filling foods that can be prepared any number of ways in order to satisfy both your dietary and taste needs.
Some people have found that sticking to a gluten free diet has helped with their arthritis symptoms, but is there science to back it up? The short answer is no. While there seem to be many links between diet and arthritis, it is unclear whether living life gluten free will eliminate arthritis symptoms. However, people with celiac disease (an extreme aversion/allergic reaction to gluten) are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis. You certainly can try a gluten free diet for several weeks to see if it makes any difference. However, just paying closer attention to our diet in general may be responsible for the improvement some people notice.
Gluten free foods include:
- Lean meats/fish
Foods to Avoid
Of course, in addition to adding nutrient rich foods to your diet, there are some foods you can probably eat less of if you want to ease the strain on your joints. Although it may seem daunting at first, many of these foods can be replaced with healthier alternatives. Some foods you should do your best to avoid in order to circumvent inflammation include:
- Processed Snack Foods
- Soy, Corn, and Vegetable Oil
- White Bread
*This article has been medically reviewed by Dr. Roman Shulze.