If you have arthritis, you know it’s more than just a small inconvenience; it can cause significant joint pain that can severely curtail your activities. While you may not be able to simply cure arthritis pain through your diet, there are foods you can eat to help you to feel better and be more mobile. Here are some of the best foods for joint pain, as well as a few to avoid.
Fish can be beneficial for people who suffer from joint problems. Many types of fish, especially fatty fish, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help to fight inflammation. Salmon, tuna, herring and mackerel are all great choices, and experts recommend getting at least two servings of fish like these each week.
Soybeans are also a good source of omega-3s (although some forms of omega-3s can only be obtained through marine sources). Edamame from the freezer section can be a good way to get the benefits of soy, as can tofu. If you don’t like the blandness of tofu on its own, try adding a bit to a smoothie. Or for a slightly more decadent tofu dining experience, blot the tofu, salt and pepper it, then fry it in a bit of oil.
3. Healthy Oils
Most of us have heard that olive oil (and particularly extra virgin olive oil) is a healthy oil. But there are a number of other oils that also may be able to help. Canola oil and walnut oil may help with joint pain too because they include anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.
4. Cherries and Berries
Fruits like cherries and berries could improve joint pain. Cherries seem to be able to help manage gout attacks, and they’re given their beautiful color by anti-inflammatory anthocyanins. This same anti-inflammatory compound can also be found in strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries.
5. Whole Grains
However much you might like sandwiches on white bread and cereals made from white flour, choose whole grains instead; they’re better for your joints. According to the Arthritis Foundation, “whole grains fight inflammation,” and less inflammation may mean less arthritis pain for you.
Whole wheat pasta and whole wheat bread also can help you to get selenium into your diet. Selenium is an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. As an added bonus, choosing whole grains may help you to lose weight, and every pound you lose is one that your joints don’t have to support.
Brown rice, whole-wheat bread, whole-grain cereal and oatmeal are good sources of whole grains. Try to get three or more servings each day.
6. Brightly Colored Foods
Colorful food isn’t just nice to look at, it has great health benefits. When a fruit or vegetable is brightly colored, the things that give them their hues are flavonoids and carotenoids, which are anti-inflammatory compounds. In addition to the previously mentioned berries and cherries, carrots, tomatoes, melons, broccoli, citrus fruits, and peppers can be good sources of these compounds.
Beans are great for you. They’re high in fiber and protein, and they may also be good foods for joint pain. That’s because they can help to lower C-reactive protein (CRP), which is a substance that indicates high levels of inflammation. Some experts recommend eating three cups of beans per week.
8. Green Tea
Green tea’s polyphenols may have anti-inflammatory properties, and may help with cartilage health. Green tea also contains epigallocatechin-3-gallate (or EGCG), which some studies suggest could help support joint health in people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis.
9. Mediterranean Foods
This isn’t so much a specific food as it is a way of life. The Mediterranean diet includes what may be some of the best foods for arthritis: fruits and vegetables, healthy oils, fish, nuts and whole grains. These foods prevent inflammation, in essence providing natural remedies for joint pain. The diet’s avoidance of salt, butter and red meat may also be helpful.
Foods to Avoid
Science has not found a definitive link between arthritis flare-ups and one’s diet. However, everyone’s body is different, and if you find that there are foods that seem to cause you pain, you may want to experiment with removing these from your diet to see what happens. Some people claim that white sugar causes them extra arthritis pain. Others experience problems when they eat food that is too processed, too fatty, or filled with too many chemicals. Still others claim to have problems when they eat eggplant, tomatoes, or other foods from the nightshade family. Pay attention to how your own particular body reacts to your diet. If you decide to try cutting out foods from your diet, make sure you adjust the rest of your diet accordingly to make sure you still get all of the nutrients you need.