Arthritis affects more than 52 million U.S. adults and manifests in the form of painful symptoms like joint stiffness and inflammation. While many choose to treat symptoms with medication, relief from your arthritis pain isn’t always found in a pill bottle.
Lifestyle changes like getting physical activity, losing weight and implementing dietary changes can improve symptoms and reduce pain. Inflammation in the joints is a primary cause of arthritic pain. Eating the right foods can reduce inflammation and heal your joints.
If you suffer from arthritis, here are nine foods that can help ease your pain.
Turmeric: This spice, often used in Indian foods, contains an antioxidant called curcumin, which studies show helps to reduce pain and swelling associated with arthritis. One teaspoon of turmeric a day is all you need, so try adding it into dips, curry or even chicken salad.
Ginger: Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory, and it can cut down on arthritic pain just as much as ibuprofen. Add a tiny amount (about the size of your thumbnail) on a salad, mixed into sauces or in a cup of hot tea.
Cloves: Cloves also contain an anti-inflammatory compound called eugenol. Rub clove oil onto joints or steep a teaspoon of cloves in hot water for a tea that will both warm you up and soothe your pain.
Garlic: Garlic and other members of the allium family (which also includes onions and leeks) contain a compound called diallyl disulfide that can limit damage to cartilage. To get more garlic in your diet, add a few cloves of minced garlic to sautéed vegetables or to sauces.
Dark green veggies: Spinach, kale, arugula, snap peas and green beans are all veggies that are rich in minerals that lower the acidity levels in the body, reducing inflammation. Try to get five servings a day of dark green veggies to get the maximum benefit.
Cruciferous veggies: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and other members of the cruciferous family contain a compound called sulforaphane, which may help slow cartilage damage in joints affected by arthritis. To get more cruciferous veggies in your diet, try roasting Brussels sprouts drizzled with olive oil, or mix broccoli and cabbage into stir-fry.
Cherries: Tart cherries contain antioxidants called anthocyanins, which help protect the body from damage caused by free radicals. Anthocyanins have anti-inflammatory properties that can relieve acute pain from arthritis and slow the disease’s progression. Toss a handful of tart cherries into your trail mix for a healthy, pain-relieving snack.
Oranges: Vitamin C in oranges is known for its immune-boosting function, but it is also important in building healthy collagen, which is found in cartilage. Studies show that people who are deficient in vitamin C are more likely to develop arthritis. Aim to eat at least one citrus fruit every day to prevent development or progression of arthritis.
Fatty Fish: Fatty fish like salmon, trout, tuna and mackerel are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help to fight inflammation. Plan to eat fish at least twice a week. If fish is not a food you enjoy, talk to your doctor about omega-3 supplements, or add a teaspoon of flax oil into salad dressing, shakes or smoothies to get more omega-3s in your diet.
What you eat is an important part of disease prevention and pain management. If you have questions about how the foods you eat may impact your arthritis, for better or for worse, consult your physician.