Top Ten Food Tips For Fighting Arthritis
Arthritis is one of the many autoimmune conditions and, as a result, it can be seriously affected by what you eat. Although there are many different types of autoimmune diseases, at their core they are all similar in that they are an immune response caused by systemic inflammation that leads our body to attack itself.
How does our immune system try to keep us safe?
Our immune system has a highly sophisticated way of keeping us safe by identifying all or any foreign substances that enter the body or that we come into contact with. Anything it considers dangerous will lead to the production of antibodies to ward off the harmful intruders.
Unfortunately, this very action can lead to the appearance of autoimmune conditions when our body is working hard to defend itself against something potentially dangerous - an allergen, a toxin, an infection or even a food…
Arthritis is the autoimmune condition in question for this post and we share our tips for the foods that can reduce the intensity of the symptoms of arthritis.
Top ten foods to combat arthritis
1. Fish and because certain types of fish are packed with inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids, experts recommend at least 3 to 4 ounces of fish, twice a week. Omega-3-rich fish include salmon, tuna, mackerel and herring. Another good source of omega-3 fatty acids is the soy bean (or edamame) with the extra benefits of being high in protein and fiber.
2. Extra virgin olive oil is loaded with heart-healthy fats, as well as oleocanthal, which has properties similar to non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs. Other oils with health benefits include avocado, safflower and walnut oils.
3. Rich in vitamins K and C, broccoli also contains a compound called sulforaphane, which researchers have found could help prevent or slow the progression of osteoarthritis (OA). Broccoli is also rich in calcium, which is known for its bone-building benefits.
4. Green tea is packed with polyphenols – those antioxidants said to reduce inflammation and slow cartilage destruction. In addition, there is a further antioxidant in green tea called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) which can block production of pro-inflammatory compounds such as prostaglandin E2, which can lead to further inflammation.
5. Just about everyone knows that citrus fruits – oranges, grapefruits and limes – are rich in vitamin C. But they might not know that getting the right amount of vitamin C helps to prevent inflammatory arthritis while maintaining healthy joints in those with osteoarthritis.
6. Beans are packed with fiber, a nutrient that helps lower CRP - the substance produced by the liver that increases in the presence of inflammation in the body. An elevated C-reactive protein level is identified with blood tests and is considered a non-specific "marker" for disease. Beans are also an excellent – and inexpensive – source of protein, which is important for muscle health. Some beans are rich in folic acid, magnesium, iron, zinc and potassium - all known for their heart and immune system benefits. Look for red beans, kidney beans and pinto beans.
7. Cherries help reduce the frequency of gout attacks and gout of course is another type of arthritis. The anthocyanins found in cherries have an anti-inflammatory effect but they are not only found in cherries – they are in other red and purple fruits like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.
8. Vitamin D is not all that easy to find in food and, if you are not getting good doses of sunlight during the warmer summer months, you will probably need to supplement with vitamin D3 to boost your levels. Vitamin D is present in cod liver oil, tuna canned in water, sardines canned in oil, beef or calf liver, egg yolks and cheese.
9. Nuts are rich in protein, calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin E and immune-boosting alpha linolenic acid (ALA), as well as filling protein and fiber. As well as contributing to reducing arthritis symptoms, they are heart-healthy and beneficial for weight loss. Nuts to include in your diet are walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios and almonds.
10. Those who regularly include foods from the allium family - garlic, onions and leeks – are said to show fewer signs of early osteoarthritis with researchers believing the compound diallyl disulphine found in garlic will limit cartilage-damaging enzymes in human cells.
Are there foods you should be avoiding?
While these are the ideal foods for those with arthritis and other autoimmune disorders to include in their daily diet, at the same time there are some that should be avoided. These include: sugar, dairy, gluten, alcohol, agave (sweetener) and those seasoning mixtures made with artificial colorings.
Conti V, et al. (2015). High prevalence of gluten sensitivity in a cohort of patients with undifferentiated connective tissue disease.
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Ferri FF. Rheumatoid arthritis. In: Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2019. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2019. https://www.clinicalkey.com. (Accessed Feb 10, 2021).
Deveza LA. Overview of the management of osteoarthritis. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. (Accessed Feb 10, 2021).