Lots of people suffer from pain associated with arthritis, an inflammation of one or more joints. Osteoarthritis, usually thought of as "wear and tear arthritis" is the most common form of arthritis. (Not to be confused with rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease and quite different.) There are also various other forms that fall under the umbrella term of 'Arthritis' because they all involve inflamed joints.
Conventional medicine usually uses pain medication to treat the discomfort associated with arthritis. While arthritis can be extremely painful and wanting to treat that pain is understandable, pain medication doesn't actually treat the cause of the condition, it only treats the symptom of pain. Chronic, longterm use of these medications, such as NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: ex. aspirin, naproxen, ibuprofen) can cause major damage to our digestive systems, kidneys and even increase our risk for cardiovascular disease. Therefore, I think it is a much better option to try to find ways to decrease the inflammation holistically and avoid possible serious complications.
Luckily, there are foods that can help quell inflammation, as well as foods that are known to increase inflammation, and therefore can be consciously eaten and avoided, respectively.
Foods to EAT
- Foods that are good sources of Omega 3's
- ex. Salmon, Sardines, Mackerel, Trout, Flax seeds, Chia seeds, Walnuts
- Foods that are good sources of other healthy fats
- ex. Avocados, Olive Oil, Nuts, Coconut Oil
- Foods that are high in fiber and complex carbohydrates
- ex. Vegetables, Legumes, Fruits, Whole grains
- Foods that are high in plant-based antioxidants (such as anthocyanins and Beta-Cryptoxathin)
- ex. Berries, Fruits, Greens, Turmeric, Ginger, Squash, Colorful Vegetables
Foods to AVOID
- Trans fats
- These awful man-created fat molecules are incredibly inflammatory. They have absolutely no need to exist. Food companies manufacture them so that their products are more shelf stable and easier to transport. It is a matter of convenience for them. It has no bearing on taste while being extremely unhealthy. Not good. Stay Away. ex. processed foods, partially hydrogenated oils.
- Omega 6's
- The Standard American Diet is way too high in Omega 6's, which cause inflammatory responses in the body. ex. Corn Oil, Canola Oil, Safflower Oil, Palm Oil
- A.G.E.'s (Advanced glycation end-products)
- These bad boys are created when food is heated, grilled, fried or pasteurized. They are toxins that cause the body to have an immune response. The body sends cytokines, inflammatory messengers, to attack the toxins. Try not to char your food and instead heat food at a lower heat to decrease the A.G.E. load. ex. Char-grilled, burnt and other foods cooked at very high heat.
- Excessive Dairy and Meat Consumption
- I believe quality matters a lot here- sticking to organic, grassfed meats and dairy will make them much less inflammatory. If you are up for it, however, completely cutting them out or greatly reducing your intake has been shown to possibly be beneficial. ex. Dairy Milk, Cheeses, Meats from CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations)
- Alcohol and Tobacco
- Both are very inflammatory. Sorry. Tobacco is definitely out. If you want to stick with some alcohol, go for wine. It has some polyphenols that might have some anti-inflammatory effects.
- The family of foods known as Nightshades contain solanum alkaloids which may contribute to arthritis in susceptible individuals. ex. tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant.
- Processed foods and processed sugars
- If it comes in a box with lots of ingredients, contains refined flours, contains lots of preservatives, processed sugars and/or unhealthy oils, steer clear. ex. Candies, Soda, Boxed Foods, White Sugar, White Flour.
If all of that was too much:
The main take away is to decrease your processed, refined food consumption and increase your colorful fruit and vegetable consumption.