Arthritis pain can be debilitating. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), between the years of 2010 and 2012, an estimated 22.7 percent, or 52.5 million, adults in the United States alone were diagnosed by a doctor with arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, gout, or fibromyalgia – annually. Also during that time, almost 50 percent of adults 65 or older were diagnosed with arthritis. It is estimated that by the year 2040, 78 million Americans ranging in age from 18 years old to 85-year-old will be diagnosed with arthritis. What’s more, nearly 1 in every 250 (around 294,000) children in the U.S. under 18 years old suffer from a form of arthritis or rheumatic condition.
A Case for Healthy Eating
As medications and treatments get more expensive and drugs have significant unpleasant (and sometimes horrifying) side effects, more people are looking toward natural ways to treat their arthritis pain. In most cases they need look no further than the foods that they eat. While there is not nutritional magic bullet, studies have shown that getting the right nutrition from certain foods can help to minimize inflammation and pain that comes from arthritis. It can also help with your overall health and influence the symptoms as well as progression of conditions that may be related to arthritis.
There are certain foods that act as anti-inflammatories while other can increase inflammation. Arthritis sufferers who learn what foods to eat and which ones to avoid can enjoy better pain management, improved mobility, a more active lifestyle, and a more positive outlook on life. These foods provide great benefits for patients with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, gout, and other forms of inflammation caused by arthritis.
Foods that Fight Arthritis Inflammation
Different types of foods seem to affect different types of arthritis. The Arthritis Foundation offers some very good guidelines on dietary recommendations for arthritis sufferers based on their type of arthritis.
Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, phytochemicals, and antioxidants have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. These types of foods are the core of the Mediterranean style diet which consists of olive oil, fish, fresh vegetables, fruits, beans, seeds, and nuts. It should be stressed that choosing fresh foods in these categories is best. The key is to select foods that are as minimally processed as possible and contain no additives or preservatives. This means that most canned foods should be excluded. However, many supermarkets now have olive bars and other fresh, healthier food options that direct consumers away from processed, unhealthy food items. Fiber also plays a significant part in reducing arthritic inflammation.
Specific foods to incorporate into your diet to combat arthritis pain include:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Egg yolks
- Green tea
- Wild and brown rice
- Tart cherries
- Berries – blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries
- Brussels sprouts
Foods that Increase Arthritis Inflammation
Just as there are foods that help alleviate arthritis pain, there are also foods that increase it. The Arthritis Foundation offers advice on foods that should be avoided by arthritis sufferers as they have been shown to increase pain and inflammation.
- Sugar – Read the labels! Anything ingredient that ends in “ose” is a form of sugar. This includes sucrose and fructose.
- Saturated fat – Cheese, pizza, red meat, pasta dishes, full fat dairy
- Trans fats – Processed snack foods, cookies, crackers, stick margarine, fast food, donuts, fried foods, frozen breakfast products
- Omega 6 fatty acids – Corn oil, sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, peanut oil, mayonnaise, vegetable oil, many salad dressings
- Refined carbs – Crackers, rolls, bread, white potatoes, white rice
- MSG – A food additive found in soy sauce and many Asian prepared foods, deli meats, prepared soups, salad dressings
- Gluten and casein – Dairy and wheat foods, whey protein, rye, and wheat
- Aspartame – Most diet sodas, artificial sweeteners, many “diet” or “sugar free” products
Paying attention to what you put into your body will not only help you better manage pain and inflammation, it will also help you feel better both physically and emotionally. A healthy, fresh diet can literally change your life.