Arthritis is a general term used to refer to a group of conditions that cause pain and stiffness in the bone joints. The pain is a result of swelling and inflammation of the bone joints. Osteoarthritis is the commonest of all arthritis, other being rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis, to name a few. Though there is no known cure for arthritis, these conditions can be managed with the help of pain reducing medicines, anti-inflammatory drugs, and a diet that can help manage inflammation and boost immunity. The role of diet in managing arthritis and minimising painful episodes of inflammation is well documented. Let us take a look at some of the best foods to eat and the ones to avoid to help manage arthritis.
Foods to add to your diet
- Fish– Fatty fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids which help in fighting inflammation. Consumption of salmon, tuna and sardines helps in keeping stiffness and swelling at bay.
- Beans - Regular consumption of beans is extremely helpful on many counts. Red beans, kidney beans, pinto beans etc. are great sources of antioxidants. What's more is that these beans help control the levels of CRP (C-reactive protein) and thus help in managing inflammation and swelling of the joints.
- Nuts and seeds - Doctors and nutritionists recommend consumption of nuts and seeds because they provide a boost of energy. For arthritis patients, they help fight the inflammation due to the presence of monounsaturated fats. While nuts like almonds, pistachio, pine nuts can be high calorie, a regulated daily intake is necessary.
- Fresh vegetables - Green leafy vegetables such as spinach and fibrous vegetables like broccoli are among the healthiest foods. Broccoli contains sulforaphane that lowers the inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Similarly, spinach too is loaded with the antioxidant kaempferol which helps relieve swelling and fight the disease.
- Berries – Berries are nature’s gift to mankind. They are full of minerals and antioxidants and boost overall health. Berries such as blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries are rich in quercetin and rutin which inhibit the inflammatory process. For arthritis patients, berries must form a regular part of the daily diet.
- Ginger and garlic – Ginger and garlic have natural anti-inflammatory properties. These have been used in natural and holistic treatments for a very long time. Nutritionists believe that including these in your diet on a regular basis can help reduce arthritis pain and swelling.
Foods to avoid
- Fried foods–Cutting down on fried foods and substituting them with fruits and vegetables has proven health benefits. One of them is relief from joint pain and inflammation.
- Sugars and refined carbs - A diet high in sugars and processed foods increases the AGE (advanced glycation end) levels which in turn triggers the production of cytokines. Cytokines are inflammatory messengers which increase arthritis swelling and pain.
- Dairy products–Dairy products can trigger inflammation and joint pain due to the type of protein they contain. In some people, the protein may irritate the tissue around the joints.
- Tobacco–Tobacco and tobacco products are very harmful to the health and could cause a number of ailments, including some that affect joints. Smokers are at higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.