People suffering from arthritis bear a lot of pain every day, and in cold and damp weather conditions, the pain increases manifold.
Arthritis is characterized by inflammation, pain and loss of function in some of the joints of the body. Arthritis damages cartilage and bone and attacks the synovial lining of joints causing pain, stiffness, swelling, and loss of function.
While we know that increasing the intake of wholesome, fresh vegetables and fruits helps in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, there is growing research-based evidence that suggests that dietary changes may help alleviate the chronic pain associated with arthritic conditions. Avoiding certain foods like red meat, dairy, saturated fats, and sugar has been shown to help prevent arthritis and manage arthritis-related inflammation and pain.
The following foods have an anti-inflammatory effect. Including them in the daily diet may help in relief from joint pain.
Antioxidants — Vitamin C, Carotenes, and Bioflavonoids: Antioxidants protect the body from the effects of cell-damaging free radicals and thus fight inflammation. Research has also demonstrated that certain antioxidants may help prevent arthritis, slow its progression and relieve pain. Some of the most effective anti-oxidants are:
Vitamin C: Guava, bell peppers, oranges, strawberries, pineapple, papaya, lemon, broccoli and potatoes are some of the rich sources of Vitamin C.
Beta-carotene: Sweet potatoes, carrot, pumpkin, mustard greens, apricot and spinach are rich source of Beta-carotene.
Beta-cryptoxanthin: Pumpkin, papaya, peppers (red chili and red bell), corn, oranges, apricot, carrot and watermelon are rich source of Beta-cryptoxanthin.
Quercetin: Onion, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, blueberries, blackcurrant, apricot, red apples with skin and red/purple/black grapes are good sources of Quercetin.
Anthocyanins: Blackberries, blackcurrant, blueberries, eggplant, raspberries, cherries, red/black/purple grapes, strawberries, plums, cranberries, red onions, and apples are rich in Anthocyanins.
Vitamin D: Studies have shown that getting adequate amounts of Vitamin D reduces the risk of both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis (at least 600 IU until age 70, and at least 800 IU for people 70 years and older), helps to build greater muscle strength, improves physical functioning, and helps in the preservation of cartilage. Some of the best food sources for Vitamin D include wild salmon, mackerel (not king), sardines, milk (skim or 1 percent low-fat), soy milk and egg yolks.
Spices —Turmeric: Certain spices seem to have an anti-inflammatory effect and therefore should be included in the diet for arthritis treatment. Among the most promising are ginger and turmeric. Turmeric has been shown to lessen the pain of knee osteoarthritis when taken in highly purified, standardized supplement form. Scientific studies have shown that turmeric helps arthritis by suppressing inflammatory body chemicals.
Olive Oil: In addition to healthy monounsaturated fats, olive oil contains a natural compound called oleocanthal which may help prevent arthritis-related inflammation. These compounds block the same inflammatory pathways as ibuprofen and aspirin, medications commonly used to fight arthritis pain. Use olive oil when cooking instead of vegetable oil or butter for the highest antioxidant content, choose “extra virgin” olive oil; the stronger the taste, the higher the amounts of oleocanthal the oil is likely to have.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: The healthiest fats for people with arthritis or other inflammatory disorders are omega-3 fatty acids. Many studies have shown that omega-3 fish oils can drastically reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. A few of the best foods to obtain omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, ground flaxseeds, walnuts and soybeans.