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By 2040, the CDC expects 78 million U.S. adults to be living with arthritis. That amount of people is nearly a quarter of the entire country’s population, highlighting how prevalent arthritis is.
If you’re living with arthritis, it’s important to know what you can do to help limit inflammation and prevent it from getting worse. One easy way is to improve your diet by eating the best food for arthritis. Taking pain pills and other medications offer a limited fix. By improving your diet and overall health, you can take a more long-term approach toward controlling your arthritis.
Read more to learn about some of the best delicious and organic foods that can help limit your arthritis pain.
Coping and Living With Arthritis
Before you can improve your lifestyle to cope with arthritis, it’s important to understand what it is. Arthritis is a joint condition caused by a natural lack of cartilage.
As the cartilage wears down over time, it makes your joints stiff, painful, and inflamed.
Age, genetics, and health are all main factors that lead to arthritis. There’s not much we can do about genetics or aging, but improving your health will help limit symptoms.
A balanced diet is an essential part of health, which is why the foods you eat can be a big factor in coping with arthritis. In addition to diet, you can also cope with arthritis by exercising, meditating, and using massage.
Learn more about osteoarthritis and when it’s important to seek professional help. In addition to advice from your doctor, try implementing the following foods into your diet.
1. Vibrant Fruits and Veggies
Eating more fruits and vegetables has been drilled into us from a very young age, but it’s still hard to meet daily recommendations. Most doctors recommend at least nine servings of fruits and vegetables, which is about a cup’s worth. That seems daunting, but it’s easy to develop new ways you can enjoy fruits and vegetables.
Choose more colorful fruits and vegetables – these will have the most antioxidants as well as the most flavor. Antioxidants help reduce inflammation, which can relieve arthritis pain.
You can make simple fruit smoothies for breakfast or as a treat. The natural sugars can trick your brain into thinking your indulging when you’re getting a powerful serving of healthy antioxidants. Try to incorporate veggies as a side dish whenever you eat a meal. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to increase your vegetables when you make simple substitutions throughout the day.
2. Leafy and Cruciferous Greens
When it comes to vegetables, leafy and cruciferous greens have more specific antioxidants that can reduce inflammation. Leafy vegetables include spinach, kale, and chard. Instead of making salads with romaine, swap out with one of these types of greens to increase your intake. You can even add them to smoothies to add texture without adding too much flavor.
Cruciferous vegetables include Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli. These types of vegetables are meatier and can even be used as a meat substitute. Try making cauliflower nuggets instead of chicken and experiment with spices and flavor.
3. Garlic and Onion
If you aren’t already eating enough garlic and onion, these will be some of the easiest foods to add to your diet. Garlic and onion add essential flavor to many types of dishes, including Italian, Indian, and American cuisine.
Garlic and onion help with joint pain by limiting cartilage damage. They contain a compound called diallyl disulfide that can help increase protective cartilage around common arthritic areas. Research shows that the compound represses cartilage damage. Essentially, garlic and onion can help prevent arthritis as you age, and it may even help reverse arthritis.
4. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish like salmon and tuna are packed with omega-3 fatty acids. These acids are polyunsaturated fats that have anti-inflammatory properties similar to antioxidants. Unfortunately, humans can’t naturally produce omega-3s, which is why it’s so important to eat a weekly serving of fatty fish.
If you don’t like eating fish, you can still enjoy the anti-inflammatory benefits by taking omega-3 supplements. Research shows that omega-3s help prevents a variety of conditions related to inflammation. In addition to helping relieve your arthritis, the omega-3s can also prevent heart disease, cancer, and more.
5. Whole Grains
Instead of eating highly processed, refined grains like white bread and cornmeal, whole grains offer a simple substitution. One big factor of arthritis is weight, and whole grains can offer a healthy way of regulating your weight. Overweight and obese people are more likely to develop arthritis since they’re placing more weight on their joints and wearing down the cartilage faster.
Whole grains like whole-wheat bread, brown rice, and quinoa provide an excellent serving of fiber. Fiber helps you feel full without overeating, and it can also lead to lower blood pressure and other health benefits.
Nuts are packed with monounsaturated fats. Similar to the polyunsaturated fats that some fish contain, monounsaturated fat can help fight inflammation. Incorporating nuts is one of the simplest alternatives you can add to your diet. Nuts are a filling, savory snack that can replace unhealthy options like chips.
Try to eat at least one serving of nuts per day (about a handful). If you want an added boost, choose nuts that also contain high levels of antioxidants or omegas. Walnuts are one of the only nuts that are packed with omega-3s, so they’re a great option that can replace fatty fish if you don’t want to include that in your diet.
Beans are packed with phytonutrients, fiber, and antioxidants. They contain almost everything you need to fight against inflammation. To fight arthritis pain, choose beans that have the highest level of antioxidants, such as red beans or kidney beans. Beans from the can are just fine, but making them fresh is even better.
What makes beans great is they’re also a very affordable food that’s easy to incorporate into your diet. Many vegetarians and vegans use beans as a meat alternative since they’re so versatile. Experiment with different recipes where you can mash beans, add them to soup or eat them as a side dish.
Aim for one cup of beans at least once or twice per week.
8. Healthy Oils
When we think of oils, we usually don’t think they’re a good healthy option. You might think of fried foods that are high in calories and fat. While oils generally do have high-calorie content, the right oils can provide necessary healthy fats and enzymes.
Some healthy oils include extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, and safflower oil. For most recipes, you can easily substitute canola or vegetable oil with these healthier options.
Healthy oils contain fat, but they’re healthy fats that help protect your heart and limit inflammation. Don’t get confused – you should still avoid deep-fried foods. Unhealthy oils have an opposite effect that can clog your arteries and increase your weight.
9. Green Tea
Green tea offers a simple way to include anti-inflammatory options into your diet. Green tea has natural antioxidants called polyphenols that help slow down cartilage damage. If you’re just starting to see signs of arthritis, a cup of green tea a day might help slow down the process.
If you’re a coffee drinker, try replacing one cup per day with a cup of green tea. You can also brew pitchers of green tea at a time and put them in your fridge. Pouring yourself a glass of iced tea can be just as easy as filling up a glass of water.
Sticking With an Osteoarthritis Diet
Living with arthritis doesn’t have to be full of pain. Instead of turning toward painkillers, an osteoarthritic diet can help manage your pain for the long term.
The hardest part about managing your arthritis will be implementing a better diet and sticking with it. Foods that are rich in antioxidants and other molecules can limit inflammation, prevent cartilage damage, and repair cartilage.
Foods to avoid with arthritis include anything with a lot of sugar, salt, and refined carbs. Instead of reaching for a bag of chips, opt for some salted nuts. Instead of sugar, try a snack of fresh fruit with nut butter. You don’t have to cut things out completely, but try to eat healthy 80% of the time.
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