Arthritis is a disease that involves chronic inflammation. It is not curable, so the best thing you can do is adopt strategies that reduce inflammation and manage your pain. The good news is that an anti-inflammatory diet can go a long way toward slowing the progression of the disease and keeping you comfortable on a daily basis.
No matter what type of arthritis you have – rheumatoid, osteoarthritis, or even gout – foods that reduce inflammation can help. And we think you’ll find a lot of tasty choices to love eating more of. However, processed and “fast” foods are all pro-inflammatory, and it’s not always easy to stop eating those.
We recommend prioritizing healthy food first each day and gradually building more of it into your diet. Eventually, it is bound to crowd the bad stuff out. Starting here is a great way to get inspired by the delicious possibilities that await you in your new anti-inflammatory diet. We think you’ll find #4 particularly exciting.
1. Fatty Fish
Fish is a great choice because it is chock full of omega-3 fatty acids. These compounds have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Some fish are especially high in high in omega-3, including sardines, salmon, trout, and mackerel. These are your best choices if you want to get the most benefit per serving. Fish also contains a fair amount of vitamin D, a deficiency of which is thought to be connected to rheumatoid arthritis.
The best news is that is doesn’t take much fish to get the health benefits. Just two servings per week offer significant anti-inflammatory results. If you like fish, feel free to eat it more often, but limit certain varieties that contain a lot of mercury, like King mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, tilefish, ahi tuna, and bigeye tuna.
On the other hand, if you don’t like the taste of fish at all, a fish oil supplement is a great choice. The oil is typically purified to remove any toxins the fish may have ingested during its life. A focus on eating more fish or taking a fish oil supplement can reward you with less morning stiffness and a reduction in the intensity of your pain.
2. Garlic & Ginger
While neither of these flavorful ingredients is a meal in itself, they have both been used in holistic medicine for centuries. Garlic contains a compound called allicin that gives it the distinctive pungent taste and smell. Allicin has been found to reduce inflammation significantly, as well as impart antioxidant protection. Early research suggests that garlic may also improve the ability of immune cells to strengthen the immune system and decrease certain inflammatory markers associated with arthritis.
Ginger has a similar effect in the body as garlic, though its primary active compound is called gingerol. However, ginger has over 200 individual elements that all seem to work together to reduce inflammation and bind with damaging free radicals. Ginger can be taken in many ways, including as a tea or in meals both savory and sweet. It seems to be as effective whether you use it fresh, powdered, or dried.
Like fish oil, people who don’t enjoy the flavor of ginger and garlic can still benefit by taking a supplement.
Broccoli is a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables, knowns for their excellent health value…and their tendency to produce gas. The reason for both is a compound called sulforaphane, which blocks the body from producing a certain type of cell that is linked to the development of rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers think that it may also slow the progression of arthritis by limiting certain inflammatory markers.
One thing to note is that broccoli must be cut in order to activate the sulforaphane. If you want to cook your broccoli, it’s best to steam it lightly but avoid boiling or microwaving. In this way you maximize the benefit and feel your best after eating it. Cooking broccoli lightly also makes it less likely to cause painful and embarrassing gas.
There are a ton of different berries available and they are all great for getting your antioxidants and reducing inflammation. Each variety offers a hefty dose of vitamins and minerals, as well as two plant compounds that have been specifically identified as inflammation reducers. Quercetin and rutin work together to block the processes in the body that cause swelling.
In fact, studies show that when you eat a diet rich in berries, you can lower the risk of developing excess inflammatory markers in the bloodstream by 14%. It doesn’t matter what kind of berry you choose, so feel free to mix it up. Blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries all provide the anti-inflammatory benefits you need to reduce arthritis pain.