15 Ways to Decrease the Pain of Arthritis with Your Diet
Arthritis is not a single disease, but a way to refer to a group of conditions that cause joint disease and pain, as there are more than 100 types! It is the leading cause of disability in North America and is more common in woman and as one matures. Symptoms can include: Pain, swelling, stiffness, and decreased range of motion in any joint. Most types of arthritis are related to inflammation, which damages joints; so decreasing inflammation in your body will help decrease the impacts of arthritis. Damage to joints also occurs through certain prescription drug side effects, long-term wear and tear, alcoholism, hormonal dyregulation, digestive disorders, as well as low stomach acid. The following foods when consumed, as part of a balanced diet, will help you to: stabilize your body overall, help with weight loss, decrease inflammation, and strengthen your bones as well as joints!
10 Foods to Eat for Arthritis
Fresh Cold Water Wild Fish – high in Omega 3s (salmon, tuna, mackerel, and herring).
- 2-3 servings of 3-4 Oz of fish weekly
Extra Virgin, 100% Pure, Cold-Pressed Olive Oil – loaded with healthy fats, specifically a fatty acid called oleocanthal, which has a structure similar to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and provides similar pain relief benefits when used over time. In addition to olive oil, avocado and walnut oil have inflammation lowering properties, are great for your brain and joints, good for increasing the good cholesterol in your body, and help to prevent cancer!
- Use one or all of these daily, sprinkled on anything baked or cooked.
Organic Dark Cherries – high in anthocyanins, which are a flavinoid, and thus are extremely high in antioxidants. This helps to mitigate the effects of harmful things that appear in our environments and diets. Anthocyanins are high in all red and purple fruits – such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries.
- Eat one fresh or frozen handful of one of these berries per day. Caution because berries are one of the most highly pesticided products, which mitigate their health effects – so do your best to buy local or organic, or skip them when you cannot.
Dark Leafy Green Vegetables – high in calcium, minerals, and help with vitamin D production within the body. All are needed for the formation and continued maintenance of healthy bones. You will get more calcium from your dark leafy greens than you will get from any dairy product.
- Eat 2-3 servings daily.
Broccoli – has Vitamins C, K and Calcium. Also high in sulforaphane, which has been researched to be able to slow the progression of osteoarthritis. Research shows that taking this in a capsulated concentrated form has great health benefits in the right cases.
- Have a handful of the raw stuff a few times a week or see Dr. Della or your local ND about your particular dosing for the concentrated form of sulforaphane.
Green Tea – high in polyphenols or antioxidants which are thought to reduce inflammation and slow cartilage destruction. The component epigallacatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) blocks the production of molecules that can lead to arthritis, cancer production, as well as aid in weight loss.
- Taking 200mg of a concentrated form 1-2x daily of EGCG is ideal.
- Also drinking a plain well-sourced green tea 1-2x daily with honey or unsweetened is another great way to get your polyphenols in!
Lemon Water – properties of lemons help improve liver functioning, eliminate toxins from the body, and decrease systemic inflammation. Caution with the enamel on your teeth as the acidity from the lemons can cause damage over time. Drink with a straw or brush your teeth after.
- Drink a warm glass of water with half an organic lemon squeezed into it every morning.
Beans – full of fiber, nutrients, and vitamins. Make sure you soak them overnight and rinse well in order to get out components (Phytic acid) that will make you gassy.
- Eat 2-3 cups cooked per week.
Flaxseed Oil – high in alpha-linolenic acid, which is converted into EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and other Omega-3s in the body. Adequate zinc needs to be present for this to occur. You also want to consume a diet low in Omega-6s (in corn, safflower, soy, and animal products). Flax-seed oil is highly perishable so keeping it in a cold and dark place (eg. The freezer) and grinding it fresh is important for you to get the most benefit from it.
- Eat 1 tablespoon freshly ground per day.
Eat Foods That are Less Acidic – those that are unprocessed, plant-based, organic, and fresh! The more nutrients that are in the system, the more resources there are to heal the system.
Plus: drink at least 2 liters of water per day to flush toxins out, hydrate cells and joints, as well as increase energy and exercise capacity (caution with kidney conditions).
5 Things that Aggravate Arthritis (ALL Cause Excessive Inflammation)
- Coffee and black tea – the high caffeine puts strain on the liver and adrenals, as well as digestive system and creates acidity in the body, preventing your cells from working optimally.
- Food preservatives – are hard to break down and cause trauma to the gut.
- Refined grains, sugars, and pastas – create a whole slew of problems in all areas of the body. Lead to increased rates of break down of joints and bones, fatigue, endocrine problems, cancer, obesity, and compromised digestion.
- Dairy – as adults we lack the enzyme to break down dairy and thus it ferments in our digestive tracts, damaging our bowels, and creating all kinds of problems for our bodies. We are not meant to eat it, so it doesn’t work well in our bodies as a result.
- Your Specific Food Sensitivities – anything your body is sensitive to leads to intestinal permeability and creation of immune complexes that aggravate joints, skin, brains, and digestion. You can find out what your specific food sensitivities are through a variety of means, but doing a blood test has the best research for helping. This means looks at a large list of potential contributors and tells you if you are sensitive, and if you are, how much. Please see Dr. Della or your local ND for options on testing food sensitivities.
‘Food For Thought’: There are many herbal and natural inflammatory modulators that can help with arthritis, and a couple of prescription medications that can prevent further damage too – for more information on these please contact Dr. Della, or your local Naturopathic Doctor.
For more tips and information by Dr. Della – please keep an eye out on her blog viewable at DrDella.ca or on her facebook page. Dr. Della is a Naturopathic Medical Doctor, highly trained in Pain Management and Woman's Health, in Victoria, BC's lovely Oak Bay.