Dietary Therapy for Arthritis
There are many different types of arthritis, all with slightly different signs and symptoms. However, they all have one thing in common – inflammation.
Arthritis occurs when the joints become inflamed leading to swelling, stiffness, loss of mobility, and pain. These symptoms are generally treated with anti-inflammatory drugs such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or steroids.
Unfortunately, these drugs can cause a number of unpleasant side effects, which is why many people prefer to take a natural approach to treating their arthritis.
As well as regular exercise and therapies such as massage and acupuncture, eating a healthy, balanced diet can really help to keep arthritis symptoms at bay.
As well as helping you to maintain a healthy weight to reduce pressure on your joints, you can try incorporating more foods that help arthritis by reducing inflammation naturally.
There are also certain foods to avoid with arthritis as they can increase inflammation and cause your symptoms to flare up.
Here are some of the best and worst foods for arthritis, along with an alternative take on the subject from traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).
10 Foods that Help Arthritis
The best foods for arthritis have natural anti-inflammatory properties and may help to relieve symptoms such as stiffness and pain.
1. Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and Brussel’s sprouts contain a chemical called sulforaphane which is thought to help to slow cartilage loss in osteoarthritis. Broccoli is also rich in calcium which is vital for healthy bones.2. Berries and Cherries
Berries and cherries are packed with antioxidant compounds which may help to reduce inflammation in arthritis. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and tart cherries are some of the best choices.3. Spinach
Spinach is another food which is rich in inflammation-fighting antioxidants as well as a variety of essential vitamins and minerals.4. Garlic
Garlic is a member of the allium family along with onions and leeks. These foods are great for a variety of conditions including arthritis.5. Oily fish
Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which are thought to have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Aim to eat two portions of fish every week, or talk to your doctor about an omega-3 supplement.6. Soybeans
Soybeans provide a plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids. Great if you are vegetarian, vegan, or simply don’t like fish.7. Walnuts
Walnuts and walnut oil are another good plant source of omega-3. Walnuts make a fantastic healthy snack if you are out and about for the day.8. Fiber
Fiber is important for a healthy digestive system and may also help to combat inflammation. Whole grains, beans, pulses, and vegetables are all good sources of dietary fiber.9. Turmeric and Ginger
Turmeric and ginger have been used in traditional Indian and Chinese medicine for centuries and are well-known for their ability to fight inflammation.10. Green Tea
Another favorite in Chinese medicine, green tea is full of antioxidants and other compounds which may benefit arthritis among other things.
5 Foods to Avoid with Arthritis
Just as the above foods can help to relieve inflammation, there are many foods which are likely tol make it much worse.1. Processed Sugar
Sugar is one of the biggest causes of inflammation in the typical western diet, so try to cut down as much as you can. However, you should avoid artificial sweeteners such as aspartame which can be just as bad for some people.2. Saturated Fats and Trans Fats
Saturated fats primarily come from animal sources including meat, cheese, and full-fat dairy products. Trans fats are a common ingredient in processed foods, fried foods, and baked goods. Try avoiding these as much as possible to keep inflammation at bay.3. Omega-6 Fatty Acids
Omega-6 fatty acids are an essential part of a healthy diet, but too much could cause inflammation. They are found in vegetable oils such as corn, sunflower, grapeseed, soy, peanut, and canola oil.4. Refined Carbohydrates
Refined carbohydrates such as white flour can negatively impact your blood sugar leading to inflammation. Avoid white bread, white rice, white pasta, and replace these with whole grain alternatives instead.5. Alcohol and Tobacco
Alcohol and tobacco can both contribute to inflammation and should be avoided as much as possible.
Foods that Help Arthritis – A Chinese Medicine View
According to TCM, arthritis occurs when qi and blood stop flowing freely and begin to stagnate in the channels. Therefore, from a TCM point of view, the best foods for arthritis are those which promote good circulation and remove stagnation.
Some of the most important foods that help arthritis from a TCM perspective include:
Fruit and Vegetables
Herbs and Spices
- Star anise
- Orange peel
- Tangerine peel