Arthritis is a joint disease that affects many people regardless of age, sex, or ethnicity. With over 100 types of arthritis and related conditions out there, it is one of the leading causes¹ of disability in the United States. Although a formal diagnosis and regular visits to an orthopedist or a rheumatologist are the best lines of defense, science shows that diet can help with the pain associated with this condition. In combination with low-impact exercise that strengthens muscles and alleviates pain, foods with anti-inflammatory effects can help manage pain associated with joint diseases.
Symptoms of arthritis
The two main types of joint diseases are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Despite being the most common they are not the only types out there, as we have already mentioned. Nonetheless, symptoms² that usually point to these joint conditions include:
- Joint pain
- Decreased range of motion
An important factor that puts individuals at risk for joint disease is family history because certain types of arthritis are genetic. Any previous injury to joints is also a substantial risk factor for these types of disease. Furthermore, as individuals get older they have more chances of developing the osteoarthritis and rheumatoid varieties of this condition. In addition, obesity is another risk factor since it can put extra strain on joints, like knees, hips, and the spine. Studies also show that women are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis, while men are more likely to develop gout.
How diet can help
Since there are so many different types of joint disease, what works for one person may not work for another. Regardless, many individuals suffering from this condition find that diet can help in several ways. First of all, certain foods can reduce inflammation³ in the body, minimizing flare-ups and pain in joints and promoting healing of tissues. Also, a balanced diet can allow for weight management that helps prevent obesity which would put added strain on the body. Finally, a diet will aid anyone suffering from a joint disease to avoid trigger foods.
Foods to avoid
So, what are trigger foods for this condition? Here is what can aggravate⁴ joints:
- Fatty foods – Anything with trans fat like fast food, highly processed food, or fried foods will likely lead to inflammation in the body and should be avoided. Limiting saturated fat and omega-6 fatty acids is also a good idea.
- Sugary foods – Another big cause of inflammation, sugar can easily trigger joint pain. This is especially true when the daily consumption is over 40 grams.
- Gluten – This may not be the case for everyone, but some people with joint disease experience less pain when limiting their consumption of gluten.
- Nightshades – Similarly to gluten, certain individuals with arthritis noticed a reduction in pain when removing nightshades from their diet.
Helpful foods for joint diseases
Crafting a diet filled with anti-inflammatory foods is a sustainable way to look after your joints and prevent pain before it starts. Popular foods for preventing inflammation³ can be seen in the table below.
|Unsaturated Fats:||Olive oil, avocado oil, nuts, seeds|
|Omega-3 Fatty Acids:||Salmon, sardines, herring, fish oil supplements, walnuts, walnut oil|
|Fruits:||Onion, garlic, leeks, sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, leafy greens|
|Vegetables:||Citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwi fruit|
Furthermore, it is worth noting that The Arthritis Foundation suggests the Mediterranean Diet as a helpful method for managing joint disease. Whether looking for a strict diet plan or a loose guideline, it is best to steer clear of these inflammation-triggering foods if you have joint pain.
- “What Is Arthritis?”, Arthritis Foundation, www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/about-arthritis/understanding-arthritis/what-is-arthritis
- “Arthritis.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 15 Sept. 2021, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/arthritis/symptoms-causes/syc-20350772.
- Richard, Louisa. “5 Foods to Avoid with Arthritis to Reduce Pain.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 22 Dec. 2020, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/foods-to-avoid-with-arthritis.
- “8 Inflammation-Causing Foods to Avoid When You Have Arthritis.” Rheumatology and Allergy Institute of Connecticut, LLC: Rheumatology, www.allergyinstitute.org/blog/8-inflammation-causing-foods-to-avoid-when-you-have-arthritis.
Ashuni Pérez is a writer in the culinary, as well as health and wellness industries. With a background in teaching and digital media, she loves to learn and help others discover more about their food, where it comes from, and how best to prepare it. A foodie through and through, she is always searching for new recipes and the freshest ingredients.