Everybody is speaking so much about the importance of proper nutrition and a balanced diet for strong health. Unfortunately, many people still underestimate the role of food we eat for the functioning of our organs and systems and the whole organism. At the same time, many patients diagnosed with some diseases, let us say, any form of arthritis, are sincerely surprised their diet has considerably contributed to its development.
Yes, we are what we eat, and this is not an exaggeration or mere beautiful words. Certain foods are able to prevent or slow down the development of many medical conditions, for example, arthritis. Let's have a brief look at how to make up a healthy, balanced, useful, and tasty diet of simple everyday products to fight arthritis and other diseases.
Food as Treatment for Arthritis
Arthritis is an extensive group of diseases, which includes more than 100 diagnoses. The most common is rheumatoid arthritis. Despite the type, this disease is always associated with malfunctioning of the joints, pain, swelling, inflammation. The advanced form of arthritis causes the damage of cartilages and bones, pain while moving: walking, running, or bending the joint.
Although we cannot claim that nutrition causes arthritis and problems with the joints, of course, no, there are certain foods that have anti-inflammatory effects and can help you decrease and manage arthritis symptoms, especially at the initial stages. So, what should you eat to help your body with joint pain management?
Fresh fruits are a great source of many vitamins and minerals vital for good health and strong immunity. However, there is something more than that found in fruits that makes them even more valuable for our diet - antioxidants. They possess unique anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Moreover, antioxidants found in many common fruits help to fight free radicals, which destroy many cells and tissues in the human body, including the synovial fluid (a fluid comprised of hyaluronic acid that acts as a lubricant for two bones or cartilages in the joint).
Modern researches have found undeniable evidence of positive health benefits fruits and their antioxidants have on rheumatoid arthritis and osteochondrosis. Many doctors advise on including the following fruits into your daily diet: apples, oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries, pomegranates, grapes, cranberries.
Also, do not forget about citrus fruits that contain lots of vitamin C, which promotes regeneration and protects joints from destruction.
Fruits are far not the only source of vitamin C. Believe me or not, but many vegetables contain far more vitamin C than the well-known oranges and lemons. That is why make sure your daily meals include lots of dark leafy greens, cauliflower, carrots, beets, broccoli, onions, red peppers, corn, peas, sweet potatoes, and brussels sprouts.
Vitamin C contributes to the production of collagen, which is a major component of cartilage. These products are also rich in vitamin E which is helpful for inflammatory arthritis to reduce inflammation and swelling. The deficiency of vitamins A and K is also associated with the failure of the immune system and the development of arthritis.
Lack of vegetables with all the vitamins and minerals they contain in your meals may increase inflammation and worsen the situation with the joints pain and swelling.
Beans, peas, lentils, adzuki, black, chickpeas (garbanzo), black-eyed peas, soybeans - all of them are a great choice to include in your diet if you want to take care of your health and appearance, and for reducing the pain of rheumatoid arthritis.
These anti-inflammatory foods are a real well of fiber and proteins that are an excellent alternative to animal proteins received from meat, which is not always useful for the human body. They also contain lots of iron, folate, potassium, and magnesium - the elements crucial for the strength and health of the musculoskeletal system.
You may cook garnish, soups, add to salads, bake puddings, eat fresh or canned. With such a variety of legumes, you may create a diverse, delicious, and healthy diet and not just for people with arthritis.
Whole grains products such as oats, brown rice, quinoa, whole grain cereals, bulgur, farro, barley, and whole cornmeal are the integral ingredients of everybody who wants to maintain a good physical shape, strong health, and healthy joints as they reduce the level of C-reactive protein in the blood. This protein has been linked to several diseases, including arthritis. Moreover, they also contain a big deal of vitamin C, vitamin D, group B vitamins, as well as selenium and magnesium that are capable to fight rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
Whole grains products are an integral part of a healthy lifestyle and healthy diet, helping to keep a healthy weight, reducing the extra load on our bones and joints.
Nuts and Seeds
Looking for another source of healthy fats, like anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, plant-based protein, and fiber? Nuts and seeds may become a wonderful choice.
All nuts are nutritious, but walnuts, pistachios, and almonds are very high in calcium, magnesium, vitamin E, protein, and alpha-linolenic acid, which strengthens the immune system. In particular, walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce pain in rheumatoid arthritis. But it does not mean you should limit your diet with these 3 kinds of nuts: raw, lightly roasted, and unsalted varieties of pine nuts, pistachios, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, and chia seeds will benefit your health and arthritis diet. And there is hardly any meal you can destroy by adding a little bit of nuts or seeds. And they can also become an excellent variant of a healthy and delicious snack!
However, do not confuse healthy nuts and seeds with most of the salted and flavored packed nuts you can find in the supermarkets. They are definitely not healthy and have nothing to do with arthritis-friendly foods.
Calcium and vitamin D are crucial for the health of bones and cartilages. That is one of the reasons dairy products comprise the base of the diet in our childhood. But it does not mean that once grown-up we should give up consuming milk.
Yogurt, milk, and cheese are rich in calcium and vitamin D, which strengthen bones and the immune system. They are an excellent addition to a balanced diet and help relieve osteoporosis and osteoarthritis pain.
Moreover, these foods contain vitamin A and probiotics which have been recently proven to have a positive impact on overall health and bone health in particular. So, you can eat low-fat dairy products daily or a few times a week, depending on your personal needs and preferences.
Fish & Seafood
Fish is another food product we have been taught to eat since our childhood if we want to have a strong skeleton. Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and trout are high in omega-3 fatty acids. These substances, according to scientists, fight inflammation and quickly reduce joint pain. The high vitamin D content also helps to reduce the symptoms of arthritis and related conditions.
Spices & Herbs
I know that many of us are addicted to salt, but this is not the best choice for our health and especially bones and cartilages. Fortunately, there are so many delicious and useful alternatives of different spices and herbs for your dishes.
Turmeric, onion, ginger, cinnamon, garlic, cayenne pepper, and a lot of other spices can add your dishes to a new unique, and undiscovered taste, awaking your gastronomic pleasure. Experiment! The world of cuisine is notlimited by salt, sugar, and black pepper!
It is mainly known for its antioxidant properties and its ability to speed up metabolism. In addition, it contains a compound called polyphenol, which is anti-inflammatory and pain relief. Another study also showed that epigallocatechin-3-gallate, which is found in green tea, slows down joint damage in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
The Bottom Line
Food plays an extremely important role in human health. Indeed, we are what we eat. It is the source of all vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other elements crucial for metabolism processes and the proper functioning of all organs and systems.
There are many diseases and medical conditions that are provoked not by nutritional factors, but it does not mean nutrition does not play any role in the development of the disease. One of such conditions is arthritis pain in the joints.
If your organism lacks the nutritional elements, it needs for the health of bones, like vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin D, vitamins of B group, vitamin A, calcium, phosphor, amino acids, saturated fats, etc., your bones and cartilages become weaker and more vulnerable to the destructive influence of arthritis.
When diagnosed with this disease, you will have special treatment of medications and physical therapy, but your diet can also help you in reducing pain caused by arthritis processes. A diet rich in fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts & seeds, whole grains, legumes, low-fat dairy foods that help to reduce inflammation will become one of the bases of your healthy lifestyle.
Moreover, such a diet will help you keep a healthy weight as every extra kilo is an additional load to your already hurt joints.