Picture arthritis as a raging fire burning inside of you.
Now ask yourself: Do I want to feed it tinder, or dish it a dose of cool and calm?
Consider the anti-inflammatory diet for arthritis that dose of cool and calm. For many patients, it’s that important element that has been missing in their quest for arthritis relief.
In general, inflammation in the body is no good, plain and simple. So, it should be no surprise that it also can cause weight gain, and that getting rid of it can cause weight loss.
“The ultimate treatment lies in reestablishing hormonal and genetic balance to generate satiety instead of constant hunger,” explain researchers in a paper on anti-inflammatory diets published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. “Anti-inflammatory nutrition, balanced 40:30:30 with caloric restriction, should be considered as a form of gene silencing technology, in particular the silencing of the genes involved in the generation of silent inflammation.”
But this “gene silencing technology” also means relief for people with arthritis. That inflammation causes great pain for a person living with a disease of the joints.
“Focusing on compounds from the habitual diet that may prevent the onset or slow the progression of (osteoarthritis) is a strategy that has been under-investigation to date,” states an abstract on a paper on diet and osteoarthritis in the journal Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. “Diet offers a route by which the health of the joint can be protected and OA incidence or progression decreased. In a chronic disease, with risk factors increasing in the population and with no pharmaceutical cure, an understanding of this will be crucial.”
The Best Food for Arthritis
You can cook your way to less arthritis pain by trying new dishes filled with inflammation-fighting foods.
But it’s a bit more intricate than that. Other foods also are essential for good arthritis health and can be found in certain spices. Meat in moderation is approved, and olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil are your best options for cooking.
Here are some additional tips on creating your own anti-inflammatory diet for arthritis.
Cook with Curcumin (turmeric)
Curcumin is a flowering plant that is part of the ginger family, according to a report published in the journal Surgical Neurology International. Although it traditionally has been used in food as a spice, “Curcumin has long been used in both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines as an anti-inflammatory agent…Several clinical trials have demonstrated curcumin’s antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antineoplastic effects.”
Curcumin is a delicious spice that can be used in all sorts of dishes. Try it if you never have; it works great as a taco seasoning (use ground turkey instead of ground beef).
Drink Green Tea (but how much is too much?)
In the same research paper, green tea is lauded for its anti-inflammatory effects. “Its use in the treatment of arthritic disease as an anti-inflammatory agent has been recognized more recently,” the authors explain. “Green tea can cause stomach irritation in some, and because of its caffeine content, a decaffeinated variety also is available.”
In general, recommended dosage is 3 or 4 cups per day.
Alcohol, meanwhile, only should be consumed in moderation among people with arthritis.
Arthritis and Amino Acids (friends in need, friends indeed)
If you have arthritis, you need amino acids in your diet.
Amino acids have some surprising benefits for people with arthritis. In particular, methionine, cysteine, and arginine.
Methionine, an anti-inflammatory amino acid, has been proven effective at easing arthritis pain. It occurs naturally in foods such as Brazil nuts, sesame seeds, fish, egg yolks, and legumes.
Cysteine, an antioxidant and an amino acid, helps protect cells against oxidative stress. It can be found in soybeans, beef, lamb, chicken, sunflower seeds, cheese, eggs, oats, legumes, and pork.
Arginine, meanwhile, is an anti-inflammatory amino acid you can get naturally from chickpeas, soybeans, seafood, wheat germ, and buckwheat.
Essential amino acid supplements have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects that may reduce the pain associated with arthritis. Check out this Red, White and Blue Smoothie made with essential amino acids or this Anti-Inflammatory Citrus Cooler Smoothie made with our favorite anti-inflammatories.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Diet
For people with rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, diets high in certain cold-water fish are a must. Try trout, make some mackerel, sear some salmon, or just have a tuna fish sandwich. All of these are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Oil from these fishes are considered the most powerful anti-inflammatory occurring naturally in foods. “Studies have shown that fish oil can relieve tender joints and ease morning stiffness,” according to the Arthritis Foundation. “It also has allowed some people to reduce the amount of conventional medication they take for RA.”
But how much fish is enough, and how much is too much? Figure that for each 3 1/2 ounces of fish you eat, you get about a gram of omega-3 fatty acids.
It’s up to you and your doctor to determine what the right dosage may be for you. Too much fish oil can result in elevated blood pressure, the Arthritis Foundation warns.
And of course, the Arthritis Foundation says you need to eat your fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, too, to battle inflammation. “Studies show that adding fiber to the diet results in lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) in the blood; CRP is an indicator of inflammation.”
It’s Time to Acknowledge Nature’s Treasure Trove
At the end of the day, more research is needed to prove the effectiveness of diet changes and herbal supplementation as a method of arthritis relief.
“In order to reduce pain, anti-inflammatory agents such as NSAIDs act on the multiple inflammatory pathways, which, although often very effective, can have undesirable side effects such as gastric ulceration and, infrequently, myocardial infarction and stroke,” concluded the authors of the Surgical Neurology International paper. “For centuries, natural anti-inflammatory compounds have been used to mediate the inflammatory process and often with fewer side effects.”