Wouldnt it be great if there were a magic diet that could eliminate all the painful effects of arthritis? It would be a godsend for one in every five Americans affected by the condition. Sadly, thats not the case. However, nutrition does play a key role in improving the symptoms of arthritis.
Since arthritis is a disease which causes inflammation, consider a diet strong in anti-inflammatory foods. Science already recognizes that certain foods actually increase inflammation. So off the bat, eliminate these from your diet. They include:
Simple refined carbohydrates
Now to the good stuff: The following foods reduce inflammation opt for these in your daily diet.
Extra-virgin olive oil
Olive oil contains hefty quantities of the good kind of monounsaturated fat, which protects the body against inflammation because it contains antioxidants called polyphenols. In animal studies, rats with arthritis were fed diets high in various kinds of oils. The researchers found that both fish oil and olive oil prevented (or helped reduce) arthritis-related inflammation. Use olive oil when cooking, instead of vegetable oil or butter.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3s work to decrease inflammation by suppressing the production of cytokines and enzymes that erode cartilage. More than a dozen studies show that omega-3 fish oils can reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Study participants reported greater strength, less fatigue, reduced joint swelling and tenderness, less joint stiffness and less pain.
The best sources for omega-3 fatty acids are: salmon (wild, fresh or canned), herring, mackerel (not king), sardines, anchovies, rainbow trout, Pacific oysters, omega-3-fortified eggs, flaxseed (ground and oil), and walnuts. Or you can get omega-3 fish oils in the form of supplements.
Antioxidantsvitamin C, selenium, carotenes
Inflammation produces free radicals which are cell-damaging molecules that are formed in response to toxins or natural body processes. Antioxidants protect the body from the effects of free radicals, and are a critical part of an anti-inflammation diet. Research has demonstrated that certain antioxidants may at its best prevent arthritis also it has been shown to slow its progression and relieve pain.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C is one of the nutrients most responsible for the health of collagen, a major component of cartilage. In addition, research suggests that people who eat a diet low in vitamin C may have a greater risk of developing some kinds of arthritis. For those reasons, it is important to make vitamin C-rich foods an important part of your daily diet. What are best food sources for C? You can choose from: sweet peppers (yellow/red/green) oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, pineapple, papayas, lemons, broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts, kidney beans, cauliflower, red cabbage, white potato and mustard greens, kiwi and cantaloupe.
One note of warning: researchers at Duke University found that long-term, high-dose vitamin C supplements may make osteoarthritis worse. If you have osteoarthritis, only get vitamin C from food sources not from individual supplements.
Selenium: Low levels of the mineral selenium are related to osteoarthritis severity, and possibly to rheumatoid arthritis. In a study of more than 900 people, those who had low levels of selenium were more likely to have osteoarthritis of the knee. People who ate very little selenium-rich foods were nearly twice as likely to have severe arthritis compared with those who ate a selenium-rich diet. Some of the best foods for selenium are: Brazil nuts, tuna (to avoid mercury, buy canned light tuna), crab, oysters, tilapia, pasta (whole-wheat), lean beef, cod, shrimp, whole grains, turkey and wheat germ.
Carotenes: The carotenoids are a group of powerful antioxidant nutrients found in dozens of fruits and vegetables. The best known is beta carotene, but there are others. When it comes to arthritis, the carotenoid called beta-cryptoxanthin may reduce the risk of developing inflammation-related disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers from the United Kingdom found people who ate diets high in beta-cryptoxanthin were half as likely to develop a form of inflammatory arthritis. They found that adding just one additional serving each day of a food high in beta-cryptoxanthin helped reduce arthritis risk. Some of the best foods for beta carotene include: sweet potato, carrots, kale, butternut squash, turnip greens, pumpkin, mustard greens, cantaloupe, sweet red pepper, apricots and spinach.
Some of the best foods for beta cryptoxanthin include: winter squash, pumpkin, persimmons, papaya, tangerines, red peppers, corn, oranges and apricots.
Spicesginger and turmeric
Ginger: contains chemicals that work similarly to some anti-inflammatory medications. Have it in tea or shred it and put on top of soups or other dishes.
Note: Ginger can also act as a blood thinner, so anyone taking a blood-thinning medication should speak with their doctor before adding ginger to their diet.
Turmeric: a mustard-yellow spice from Asia, is the main ingredient in yellow curry. Scientific studies have shown that turmeric may help arthritis by suppressing inflammatory body chemicals.
WHAT ELSE? WELL, LOSE WEIGHT
Even more importantly, if youre overweight drop the pounds. Being overweight increases the wear on your joints. In fact, its estimated that every one pound of weight you lose is equal to four pounds less pressure on your knees alone. Plus, body fat can produce hormones and other chemical that can act to increase levels of inflammation. By losing weight you can automatically reduce the levels of inflammation in your body.
Robin Westen is ThirdAges medical reporter. Check for her daily updates. She is the author of Relationship Repair
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