Arthritis is caused by inflammation in one or more joints and is accompanied by pain and stiffness. Often, arthritis pain will worsen with age. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a disease in which the body attacks the joints; it is a chronic inflammatory disorder that usually affects the hands and the feet. Over time, RA can cause disfigurement by deforming the wrist, finger and knuckle joints.
Arthritis of any type usually involves tenderness, swelling, pain, redness or stiffness in one or more joints. If you have arthritis, it is important to maintain a healthy weight; every extra pound can put four pounds of pressure on joints in the knees. You can also eat a diet which is anti-inflammatory and may reduce the inflammation in your joints. Reducing inflammation in the joints and throughout the body can relieve symptoms of arthritis, including pain.
There are many foods that you can eat which aid in relieving symptoms of arthritis; often, these foods are full of healthy antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties. They are also great foods for helping maintain a healthy weight.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to alleviate pain and stiffness brought on by rheumatoid arthritis. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine concluded that ingesting fish oil led to “alleviation of active rheumatoid arthritis and reduction in neutrophil leukotriene B4 production.” While many studies have been completed on the efficacy of fish oil to treat RA, the clinical use of fish oil to treat arthritis in general has been poor. In the article titled “The Role of Fish Oils in the Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis,” published in Drugs, researchers note that “since fish oils do not provide industry with the opportunities for substantial profit associated with patented prescription items, they have not received the marketing inputs that underpin the adoption of usual pharmacotherapies.”
Tart cherries are high in anthocyanins, which are antioxidants that can help lower chronic inflammation. One 2013 study published in the Osteoarthritis & Cartilage journal found that volunteers who drank tart cherry juice had a reduction in pain from mild to moderate knee osteoarthritis. Tart cherry juice lowered scores of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, which is known to be an indicator of inflammation.
Heart-healthy soybeans like edamame are a great low-fat, high-protein food that is full of omega-3 fatty acids. Tofu is another option that provides these great anti-inflammation benefits.
Try preparing some of your foods with walnut oil, which has 10 times more omega-3 fatty acids than olive oil. Also, your body burns more calories when you eat walnut-derived omega-3s than after a meal full of saturated fat – and weight loss is often an important factor in reducing arthritic pain due to the stress that excess weight can put on the joints. Walnut oil is delicate and contains more of its nutrients when it is not heated. Try walnut oil on quinoa or roasted root vegetables, on pasta, in a salad or with sauteed mushrooms.
Broccoli, and other members of the cruciferous family, contains a compound that goes by the name of sulforaphane. Sulforaphane may block inflammation and protect cartilage from damage, according to a 2013 study published in Arthritis & Rheumatology. Broccoli is also rich in calcium and vitamins K and C.
Green tea is full of polyphenols, which are antioxidants that can reduce inflammation and possibly slow down cartilage destruction. There is a specific antioxidant in green tea known as epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). This antioxidant can also prevent the production of molecules which lead to joint damage. EGCG is a very potent anti-inflammatory molecule, and its antioxidant activity is known to be 25 to 100 times more potent than vitamins C and E.
Tea warning: Teas contain oxalic acid, and black tea and decaffeinated black tea contain the highest amount of oxalic acid. Usually, oxalic acid passes through the body but sometimes it combines with minerals, most often calcium, and this can create oxalates. Oxalates are salt crystals that can be irritating to human tissue and may lead to the development of kidney stones or bladder stones. Green and white teas typically contain half the amount of oxalic acid as black tea. Herbal teas contain the least amount of oxalic acid.
Borage seed oil
Borage is a small blue flower that is native to the Mediterranean region as well as parts of Europe. It is also known as the starflower for its shape. Borage has anti-inflammatory properties which make it a possible treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. ArthritisResearchUK.org scores borage seed oil three out of five points on its effectiveness score and gives it the green light for safety classification. Borage seed oil has high levels of the polyunsaturated gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an omega-6 fatty acid. GLA is used by the body to maintain the cell structure and function of your joints. It is thought that GLA may also suppress inflammatory responses in the body. ArthritisResearchUK.org notes that, while many oils may contain omega fatty acids, it is borage seed oil which “is the richest source of pure GLA.”
The fiber in beans lowers C-reactive protein levels, which rise with inflammation throughout the body, as is the case with rheumatoid arthritis. A fiber-rich diet may also lower inflammation by helping reduce someone’s body weight. Beans may also feed the helpful gut bacteria that can release anti-inflammatory substances throughout the body. The phytonutrients in fiber-rich foods are linked to helping fight inflammation.
Garlic is a food from the Allium genus. Other foods from this family include leeks and onions. Some researchers believe that a specific compound – diallyl disulfide – is responsible for limiting cartilage-damaging enzymes that are found in human cells. Some specific studies have shown that eating more garlic may improve symptoms of early osteoarthritis.
Nuts are naturally high in protein. They also contain calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin E and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid. ALA boosts the immune system. Brazil nuts in particular are a good source of selenium; selenium works on specific enzymes in the body, some of which interact with free radicals and reduce their damage. People with rheumatoid arthritis often have low levels of selenium, and taking more selenium in the diet may improve some symptoms, including pain from arthritis. It is important to remember that, according to current evidence based on published randomized control trials, taking selenium supplements is not known to be as effective in treating arthritis. This is why natural selenium should be eaten, such as in the form of nuts, rather than taken by pill form.