Arthritis affects about one in every five people in the United States according to the National Institutes of Health, That's a lot of people... and as the population ages it will be even more people.
Actually, Arthritis is not one single disease but a category that includes many conditions and disorders that involve your joints. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the most common of these diseases.
Most of us don't realize how much good nutrition may improve the way we feel. Many doctors don't support nutrition as part of the treatment for arthritis because they feel the clinical evidence is not strong enough for them to suggest it to patients. Even so there are a few studies that show there are foods that can irritate arthritis (saturated fat, trans fat) and make it worse and there are some foods that can help ease the pain.
Here are a few of the foods that can improve the way you feel with arthritis:
Foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3s help decrease inflammation by suppressing the production of cytokines (Cytokines are small secreted proteins which help regulate immunity and inflammation.) and other enzymes that erode cartilage. Several studies report that omega-3 fish oils can reduce the painful symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. There is not much evidence whether fish oil can affect osteoarthritis, but most physicians recommend a omega-3 rich diet because it has such positive effects. Foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids are salmon, herring, sardines, flaxseed, trout and walnuts.
Foods that contain extra-virgin olive oil and canola oil
Cooking with olive oil instead of vegetable oil or butter is good for you because olive oil is the good, monounsaturated fat. It protects your body against inflammation because it contains antioxidants called polyphenols ( Polyphenols act as antioxidants. They protect cells and body chemicals against damage caused by free radicals and reactive atoms that contribute to tissue damage in the body.) Be careful, however, not to pour it on. It is an oil and has calories.
Antioxidants - vitamin C, selenium, carotenes, bioflavonoid
Free radicals develop from inflammation in response to your body's natural processes. Antioxidants protect the body from the effects of free radicals and are an important part of an anti-inflammation diet. Some of the important free radicals are:
Vitamin C is important for the production of collagen which is a major component of cartilage. People who eat a low vitamin C diet are at a higher risk of developing arthritis. On the other hand, long-term high-dose vitamin C supplements may make osteoarthritis worse. That's one of the reasons why many doctors recommend that their patients get their vitamin C from food sources rather than from supplements. Foods which are a good source of vitamin C include: guava, sweet peppers, organs, grapefruits, broccoli, kale, kiwi, brussel sprouts and mustard greens.
Patients with low levels of selenium are more at risk for severe arthritis
compared with those who ate a selenium-rich diet. Good foods containing selenium are: tuna, crab, lean beef, shrimp, whole grains, turkey and wheat germ.
Many fruits and vegetables contain carotenoids, a group of powerful antioxidants. Carotene is the best known among them . Some of the best foods for beta carotene include: sweet potato, carrots, kale, spinach, sweet red pepper, apricots and cantaloupe. Research in the U.K. found that people who ate diets high in carotenes were half as likely to develop inflammatory arthritis.
Bioflavonoids - quercetin and anthocyanidins:
These are both antioxidants. The anti-inflammatory effects of quercetin are similar to medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen. Good sources for quercetin are: onions, leeks, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, and apricots, The anti-inflammatory anthocyanidins seem to inhibit the production of certain inflammatory chemicals. Good food sources for this antioxidant are blueberries, eggplant, cherries, strawberries and plums.
Spices - ginger and turmeric
Spices, like salt, are a part of nutrition. They are derived from plant sources and they can have positive effects on your health. Some spices, like ginger and turmeric, have anti-inflammatory effects and can reduce arthritic discomfort. However, ginger can also act as a blood thinner so those taking a blood-thinning medication should discuss adding ginger to their diet with their physician before they do anything.
To incorporate more ginger into your diet, grate fresh ginger into stir fries, or enjoy ginger tea and low-fat ginger muffins.
Always eliminate the possibility of a food allergy if you're trying something new. To reduce your pain from arthritis, avoid meet, eat lots of foods with fish oils and include ginger in your diet.
There are dozens of foods that can ease the symptoms of arthritis and probably help prevent it in the first place. Hopefully, these suggestions will give you some relief.