Eating for arthritis has always been an interest of mine, growing up with my granny who suffers regularly from severe arthritis pain.
Arthritis is a disease of inflammation, and there are things you definitely can do to ease pain like regular exercise — but there are a lot of easy ways to stock up on foods that can ease inflammation from the inside out.
Eating a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods is not only essential for overall health, but also important for those who suffer from systemic pain that comes from the body’s inflammatory response.
All the tasty foods listed below are heavy hitters when it comes to anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory properties — so for the best diet, mix-and-match them daily or take it a step further and print out my superfood grocery list.
Start with a hot cup of green tea (or for a delightful summer drink, do iced green tea), without sugar. Green tea contains several highly studied antioxidants, like catechins and EGCG that can stop the production of inflammatory chemicals leading to joint pain.
If you are sensitive to caffeine, be aware that green tea contain some (about 40 mg/cup compared to the 100-200 mg you’ll find in the same size cup of coffee). Tea also makes a unique base for smoothies, soups, and to poach fish in!
Get Your Omega-3’s
It’s easy to incorporate omega-3s into your daily basis — the most absorbable dietary sources of omega-3s (EPA and DHA) are in fish (cold water oily fish like wild salmon, cod, herring, mackerel, anchovies and sardines) and in other animal-based proteins like grassfed red meat, eggs, and some dairy.
Vegetal sources of omega-3s (for example ALA) may be harder for your body to convert but are easy to add to your diet via flax, walnuts, seaweed, soybeans and mushrooms. In principle, most healthy persons should be able to eat ALA-containing foods but studies and health experts say that’s not always the case.
Check out these salmon recipes, like salmon cakes great for brunch, 7-minute salmon with peanut sauce, salmon salad nicoise, and orange balsamic salmon. Click here to find out what your daily allowance of omega-3 should be.
Get Your Greens, Leafy and Otherwise
Kale, spinach, broccoli, watercress, Brussels sprouts, and Brussel Kale are all loaded with high levels of powerful detoxifying compounds like sulforaphane — a major detox agent, especially important for your liver which may also slow or even stop problem enzymes that trigger rheumatoid arthritis.
These important superfoods have plenty of other things to boost your immunity, such as vitamin A and C, calcium and folate just to name a few. So make these foods the base of all your meals.
Does arthritis run in your family like mine? Well, kale also happens to be high in a vital preventative compound called beta-cryptoxanthin, a carotenoid which may keep inflammation-related disorders including rheumatoid arthritis from developing.
Just like greens, berries and cherries also have high amounts of anti-inflammatory compounds in their brightly colored skins. They are the perfect compliment to your green salads because they supercharge your salad with another anti-inflammatory anti-arthritic compound, anthocyanin that you normally don’t find in greens.
Berries also happen to be lower in carbs compared to other sweet fruits, low in calories, and very high in fiber, all great ingredients for weight loss or weight management.
The benefits of ginger are well known in traditional medicine but now western medicine is also falling in love with the health benefits of this amazing root.
Ginger root delivers a wonderful spicy fragrant kick to food and can be used for a multitude of ailments because of its high-octane anti-inflammatory compound called gingerol, also potent against arthritis inflammation.
Ginger is easy to cook with, just pick up a piece of ginger root in the produce isle of your local grocery store. Chop ginger and add it to hot water for a soothing tea, a great natural cure for GERD.
Mince ginger and add it to the base for your chicken noodle soups, home-made broths, stir frys, or make a simple peanut sauce with peanut butter, minced ginger and garlic to top vegetables. Saute shrimp or bake you salmon with a tablespoon of minced ginger.
Some Like it Hot
Experts say that the active ingredient in chilies, capsaicin, alone or with other antioxidants, may reduce blood cholesterol, triglyceride levels, and platelet aggregation that can cause formation of blood clots.
Capsaicin is also being studied for its ability to clear congestion from the lungs, improve immunity and boost weight loss. One caveat with this amazing food — chilies do fall into the category of nightshades, so read on to find out if you may be sensitive to nighthshades.
Nightshades, Yes or No?
Some say that nightshades are a no-no if you have arthritis since edible nightshades contain alkaloids that may affect nerve-muscle function and digestive function as well — but there are no firm studies yet that prove our favorite nightshades like tomatoes, eggplants, and chilies are harmful to arthritis sufferers if eaten in moderation.
Apparently, some individuals are very sensitive, so the best way to know is to try it out on yourself and feel if there is any difference. But, talk to your doctor first before changing your diet.