More than 50 million Americans suffer from a form of arthritis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even mild cases of arthritis can be very distressing for patients, preventing them from engaging in the activities they love. Fortunately, altering your diet may be a simple way to alleviate arthritis pain.
What Causes Arthritis?
There are two major types of arthritis, each with its own unique causes. In osteoarthritis, years of everyday damage to the protective cartilage of joints cause this important tissue to wear away. Eventually, bones may grind on one another, leading to pain and severe movement restrictions. The second type of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, is caused by an inappropriate immune system response. In rheumatoid arthritis, the body’s own immune cells attack a protective membrane in the joints, leading to pain and inflammation.
Although pain is the primary symptom of arthritis, it is also characterized by significant swelling and internal inflammation. Arthritis is particularly prevalent in the hands and wrists, where inflammation and pain may prevent you from performing day-to-day tasks.
Foods That Help Arthritis
Addressing the inflammation problem can help you manage pain naturally. In general, eating plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains will keep you on an anti-inflammatory path to good health. Try some of the following foods to see if they help decrease your arthritis pain:
- Cruciferous vegetables. These healthy green vegetables, including broccoli, cabbage, kale and Brussels sprouts, contain the compound sulforaphane. This may slow or prevent cartilage damage.
- Garlic, leeks or onions. These pungent vegetables contain the compound diallyl disulfide. Some scientific evidence suggests that this chemical combats enzymes that damage the cartilage.
- Tart cherries. The compound that makes tart cherries red, anthocyanin, might improve joint stiffness associated with arthritis. Try drinking tart cherry juice or baking these tasty fruits into a pie or crumble.
- Fatty fish. Omega-3 fatty acids are great for your heart, and they may decrease inflammation throughout your body. Add tuna, salmon, mackerel or other fatty fishes to your diet two to three times per week for maximum benefits. Canned varieties count!
- Vitamin C. Natural sources of vitamin C include strawberries, kiwi, oranges, and pineapple. The vitamin C in these fruits may decrease inflammation and improve symptoms of stiffness.