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How to Eat Your Way to Arthritis Relief

March 04, 2024
If you’re one of the nearly 59 million Americans with arthritis, you’re probably familiar with the aches and discomfort. Changing up what you eat might provide some relief.

While the saying “you are what you eat” isn’t quite accurate, the foods you use to fuel your body do play a significant role in your health. Eating certain foods—or avoiding them—can help you decrease your risk of certain health issues, promote good overall health, and even relieve the symptoms of some conditions like arthritis.

So, what should you be eating? We’re breaking it down for you in today’s blog.

The 411 About Arthritis
Before we dive into how food can help ease arthritis symptoms, let’s first talk a little about arthritis itself. While you may think of it as a single medical condition, arthritis is an umbrella term for more than 100 different conditions—the term “arthritis” simply means inflammation around the joints.

Each type of arthritis works a little differently. Because of that, knowing the specific you’re dealing with can help you make decisions about your diet. 

Someone who has osteoarthritis, which is caused by wear and tear on the joints, may benefit from eating different foods than someone who has rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disorder.

Step 1: Eat a Healthy Diet Overall
Before you tailor your diet to incorporate some arthritis-relieving foods, first take a good look at your eating habits. A healthy, balanced diet benefits your overall health, including your orthopedic health and your joints.

What makes for a healthy diet? Aim to fill your plate with lots of fruits and vegetables, in all the colors of the rainbow. Each different hue of produce contains unique nutrients, antioxidants, and minerals. Fruits and veggies should make up half your plate at meals.

Supplement those healthy foods with lean protein, such as chicken, fish, tofu, or beans, and whole grains. Add in some healthy fat, like what’s found in nuts, olives, or avocado.

On the other hand, steer clear of saturated fats, added sugar, and excess sodium. You’ll want to carefully review nutrition labels to check for these items, since they’re often added in prepared foods.

Step 2: Introduce Some Arthritis-Relieving Foods
Once you’ve established healthy eating habits, you can then look at adding some foods to your diet that are specifically known to help provide arthritis relief.

Give some of these foods a try:

Fish. Include fatty fish, in particular, in your diet for a dose of heart-healthy, brain-healthy, and joint-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Experts recommend most adults get two four-ounce servings of fatty fish like salmon, tuna, or mackerel a week. Research has shown that eating fatty fish can help reduce inflammation markers in the body, relieving discomfort and joint stiffness. Don’t like fish? You might benefit from a fish oil supplement.

EVVO. Using extra virgin olive oil (the aptly named EVVO) in your meal preparation is another heart-healthy practice that benefits your joints, too. What’s the connection? A compound found in olive oil called “oleocanthal” is known to be a natural anti-inflammatory. This can help provide relief from both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. 

Green tea. Dealing with rheumatoid arthritis? Serve yourself up a cup of green tea, twice a day. It doesn’t matter if it’s hot tea or iced; both will provide the same benefits to your joints. Green tea is high in polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that has anti-inflammatory effects. Some research also shows that green tea could have a preventive effect, helping to reduce the incidence of rheumatoid arthritis in the first place.

Berries & cherries. Love berries? You’re in luck—they also love your joints. Cherries and berries (along with other purple fruits and vegetables) contain anthocyanins, which have an anti-inflammatory effect. Research has also found that cherries, in particular, can help reduce the frequency of gout attacks. Choose berries and cherries of nearly any variety, including frozen, canned, or fresh. Just make sure they’re packed in water rather than juice, with no added sugar.

Broccoli. Whether you love this green veggie or you hate it, it’s a friend to your joint health. Eating broccoli regularly provides you with a healthy dose of a compound known as “sulforaphane,” which can prevent or slow the progression of osteoarthritis. The veggie also contains calcium, which can help you strengthen your bones, providing support to your joints.

Whole grains. Yes, we’re telling you to eat some bread! Just be sure you choose the whole-grain variety. Whole grains have been shown to lower C-reactive protein in the body, which is an inflammation marker tied with rheumatoid arthritis. Load up on healthy sources like oatmeal and brown rice, in addition to whole-grain bread or pasta.

Citrus fruits. Oranges, grapefruit, and other citrus fruits contain vitamin C, which can help keep your joints healthy and strong. Getting enough of this essential nutrient can help prevent arthritis in the first place and help you slow the progression of conditions like osteoarthritis. 

Dealing with discomfort from arthritis or another orthopedic health condition? Physical therapy through Sports Plus Rehab may help. Call (731) 541-7060 to learn more about rehabilitation services in 17 convenient locations through West Tennessee.