The Arthritis Diet: Eating Your Way to Inflammation Relief
7 minute read
It is currently estimated that approximately 350 million people worldwide have arthritis. In the United States, 52 million people are reported to suffer from arthritis symptoms. There are 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions but the common factor in all of them is inflammation.
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Symptoms can come and go, varying from mild to severe. With all the variation, it could seem a challenging task to find a cure. The best approach is, therefore, to go right to the source. Reduce inflammation to reduce your pain.
The Arthritis Diet
It may be shocking to learn that rheumatoid arthritis, which happens to be one of the more common types, is an autoimmune disorder. The trigger for this disorder starts in the gut. Thus, it would seem that making changes to diet and the digestive tract could be the best defense against this type of arthritis, as well as any other.
Studies have shown links between intestinal inflammation and the presence of arthritis in the body. Once the inflammatory response of our immune system has been triggered, inflammation can spread to any part of the body. What is the best way to prevent intestinal inflammation? Take a look at your diet.
Researchers have identified certain foods that help to control inflammation. Ideally, you want to follow a diet that reduces inflammation at the same time as strengthening bones and boosting the immune system.
Omega-3 foods: These fatty acids are notorious for their anti-inflammatory properties. The number one food source for omega-3 is fish, ideally, wild caught fresh fish. Don't despair if you are not a fish person because there are omega-3 supplements you can take that are just as effective. Additionally, you can try grass-fed beef, chia seeds, and walnuts. For vegetarians who need to keep up omega-3 levels, soy is an ideal source.
High-sulfur foods: Sulfur contains a form of MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) which rebuilds tissue and helps reduce joint inflammation. The high-sulfur foods you want to include are asparagus, cabbage, onions, and garlic.
Bone broth: Bone broth has long been used to treat colds because of its remarkable healing powers. It is loaded with collagen, which contains the amino acids proline and glycine. Both of these have the ability to rebuild tissue.
Additionally, one serving of broth contains two compounds that reduce inflammation and arthritis pain; chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine. It would seem that bone broth can help with more than just colds.
Green Tea: With green tea you get polyphenols which are powerful antioxidants that fight inflammation. As an added bonus, they also help to slow cartilage destruction.
Beans: Beans are full of fiber which helps to lower CRP (C-reactive protein) which is a marker for inflammation. Their high protein content is also ideal for muscle strength.
Fruits and vegetables: All fruits and vegetables are packed with digestive enzymes and anti-inflammatory compounds. The papain in papaya fruit and bromelain in pineapple are two of the most effective enzymes out there. There has also been a link found between low levels of vitamin C and the increased chance of developing inflammatory conditions.
Since a number of fruits are high in vitamin C, there is an additional benefit to keeping up fruit intake. Anthocyanins possess anti-inflammatory qualities and can be found in cherries, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. Broccoli is another special food to consider; the sulforaphane compound it holds has been shown to slow the progression of osteoarthritis.
Oils: Extra virgin olive oil contains heart healthy fats but also oleocanthal. This compound acts similarly to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications. In addition, avocado and sunflower oils are beneficial for the heart by lowering cholesterol and walnut oil is loaded with those wonderful omega-3s.
| Related: Health Benefits Of The Mediterranean Diet |
Dairy: It is important not to neglect your dairy intake. Calcium and vitamin D are essential for bone strength which helps to fight off arthritis. If you are lactose intolerant or just not a fan of dairy, then you can get the same nutrients from other foods such as leafy green vegetables.
What to Avoid
There are also foods that you want to avoid, so as not to intensify your arthritis symptoms. Excess sugar feeds inflammation so watch your sugar intake. Given that carbohydrates break down into sugars, you should also watch these too.
There are also several inflammatory oils that need to be avoided such as hydrogenated oils, and soybean, canola and cottonseed oils. Conventional grains like gluten, flour products are known to cause joint inflammation which will make your arthritis pain worse.
As with any health condition related to the gut and diet, there are always chances that following a strict diet will be a challenge. Circumstances are not always conducive to being able to get all the right foods, all the time.
The good news is that you can include certain supplements in your diet to help keep inflammation in check so if your diet is not always on point, you still do not have to suffer.
Krill Oil: High quality krill oil taken daily has been shown to significantly reduce arthritis activity, therefore bringing much needed relief to patients.
Turmeric: This is a powerful anti-inflammatory herb which reduces inflammation markers. It is not necessary to sprinkle it on every meal, as it is readily available as a supplemental pill.
Proteolytic enzymes: The two most common are papain and bromelain, both of which provide immediate relief from arthritis.
Glucosamine: This compound is very effective at delivering the nutrients your body needs to rebuild healthy joints.
MSM: This sulfur supplement provides similar benefits to high-sulfur foods.
The Bottom Line
With the overwhelming occurrence of arthritis in this country and worldwide, it is clear that changes need to be made. Following an anti-arthritic diet is a good step. Adding the right supplements to your regimen can give you positive results, as well.
With so many suffering with arthritic conditions, one of the solutions may be in your kitchen. Take control of your body, fueling it with the right foods to fend off inflammation.
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