Would An Arthritis Diet Be Beneficial For You?
What Is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a very common condition affecting over 54 million people in the United States alone (1). There are many different types of arthritis, but they all share a common definition:
Arthritis is swelling and tenderness affecting one or more joints (2).
Arthritis sufferers often complain of joint pain, stiffness, and loss of mobility that worsens with age.
There are many different types of arthritis but they can be divided into two camps: inflammatory arthritis and noninflammatory arthritis (3).
Inflammatory arthritis is the name for the group of arthritis conditions that are autoimmune disorders (4). In other words, inflammatory arthritis is the result of the body’s immune system attacking its own tissue. This can result in inflammation, pain, stiffness, and damage to the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and gout are some of the most common and well-known types of inflammatory arthritis.
Noninflammatory arthritis is usually the result of an injury to a joint or the result of natural wear and tear to joints over time. An example of noninflammatory arthritis would be osteoarthritis. Despite being called noninflammatory arthritis, osteoarthritis can result in painful inflammation in and around the joint.
Since inflammation plays such a big role in most cases of arthritis, an anti-inflammatory diet can be beneficial in reducing chronic pain for many arthritis sufferers.
Science Behind Anti-Inflammatory Diets
Anti-inflammatory diets aren’t just a fad. There is actual science that can explain why these diets can be beneficial and reduce pain for many chronic pain sufferers.
Anti-inflammatory diets work by having people consume foods high in antioxidants that can neutralize free radicals and avoiding foods that encourage the production of excess free radicals.
Free radicals are negatively charged atoms or molecules created naturally as part of the body’s metabolism (5). Certain behaviors can result in the creation of too many free radicals. When there are too many free radicals, it is impossible for the body to neutralize or process them all. This creates an imbalance called oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress is associated with chronic inflammation. The big worry with oxidative stress is that it is believed that it can cause a biochemical avalanche that promotes inflammation and can eventually lead to arthritis and other degenerative diseases.
Arthritis Diet Benefits
If you search online, you will find tons of diet plans for arthritis, but most of them are very similar to the Mediterranean Diet (6). Many studies have been done on the Mediterranean Diet that confirm how beneficial it can be. Some of the benefits include:
- Weight loss, which can relieve excess pressure on the joints
- Lower blood pressure
- Improve joints and heart health
- Reduce inflammation, which can relieve arthritis pain
- Protect against many different chronic conditions from stoke to cancer
Food To Limit or Avoid
Foods that promote inflammation could cause flare-ups of arthritis symptoms and can contribute to an increase in chronic pain for many (7).
Some foods to avoid:
- Processed foods
- Red meat
- Refined grains (white bread and white pasta)
- Refined sugar and products containing refined sugar
- Deep-fried foods (This is a trigger for many arthritis sufferers, but it can be an even bigger trigger for flare-ups for gout.)
- Some cooking oils (corn, soy, peanut, and safflower oil)
Arthritis Diet-Friendly Foods
Some foods to include in your arthritis diet are (6):
Salmon, tuna, rainbow trout, scallops, and other cold-water fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3s are an important part of an arthritis diet because they have anti-inflammatory properties.
Nuts and Seeds
Walnuts, pinenuts, pistachios, and almonds are some of the best nuts for an anti-inflammatory diet. Nuts have monounsaturated fats that can help reduce inflammation.
Beans have fiber, phytonutrients, and antioxidants which are all great for reducing inflammation. Beans are also a good source of protein that is important for muscle health.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and veggies are high in antioxidants that can neutralize those pesky, damaging free radicals. The darker and richer the color of the fruit or vegetable, the more antioxidants they have. Kale, spinach, blueberries, and cherries are great sources of antioxidants. It is important to note that night-shade vegetables, like eggplant and tomatoes, have arthritis sufferers split. Some people say night-shade vegetables help and others say they make their arthritis symptoms worse, so it is essential to monitor how they affect you.
Olive Oil or Walnut Oil
Walnut oil is a great source of omega 3s. Extra virgin olive oil is easier to find and also has heart-healthy fats.
Grains have a bad reputation in today’s world. Grains, especially highly processed grains, might negatively impact some people. Whole grains are a much better option. They have fiber, and fiber-rich foods can lower levels of CRP, which is an inflammatory marker.
To learn more about arthritis and treatment options, check out our blog here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I avoid citrus?
No. Citrus is often falsely blamed for inflammation, but citrus is high in vitamin C and antioxidants that can reduce inflammation (8). Grapefruit can interact with some medications though, so if you are on any medications, you should discuss whether you should include grapefruit in your diet with your doctor or pharmacist.
Why are tart cherries so frequently recommended to arthritis sufferers?
Cherries are rich in antioxidants and have other anti-inflammatory benefits that they get from the flavonoid anthocyanin. Studies have shown cherries to help relieve joint, muscle, and tissue pain. Many people with gout have reported that cherries reduce the frequency and/or intensity of their gout flare-ups (8).
Should I go gluten-free?
Unless you have a gluten intolerance or have celiac disease, that can result in inflammation from eating gluten, it is probably unnecessary for you to go gluten-free.
Should I go dairy-free?
Dairy can be either very beneficial helping reduce arthritis symptoms or they can worsen arthritis symptoms. Eliminating them from your diet and then, reintroducing them can help you determine which is true for you.
Can turmeric or other spices affect my arthritis?
Yes. Turmeric, ginger, and garlic are just a few spices that help relieve inflammation.
Can my entire family eat an arthritis-friendly diet or will it impact them negatively?
The diet recommendations for arthritis are generally healthy for the entire family (9).
What if I don’t like fish?
There are other foods that have omega 3s, like flax seeds and chia seeds, that you can add to your diet. You can also take a fish oil supplement to up your omega 3s.
I am already on an anti-inflammatory diet for my arthritis. I can feel the difference. Are there other natural things I can try to help even more?
There are many natural options for treating the symptoms of arthritis. Physical therapy is a great option for many people. A good physical therapist can teach correct posture and proper technique for everyday movements to prevent unnecessary strain and reduce pain. Physical therapists often suggest other treatment options and exercises to help you reach your physical goals and reduce your pain.
Another natural option is our Pain Warrior+ Blend. Pain Warrior is made with CBD and DMSO. Both CBD and DMSO have amazing anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, but DMSO has unique abilities. DMSO strengthens the absorption rate of the other ingredients, so with Pain Warrior Blend, you won't need to use as much CBD as you would with any old CBD salve. DMSO is also known as a powerful free radical scavenger. As we already mentioned, free radicals can cause inflammation and cause damage to the body, so DMSO’s ability to neutralize free radicals is an amazing added benefit.
To see why this blend earned the name Pain Warrior+, you need to try it for yourself today.