If you’re feeling sore, tired and rigid from arthritic pain, you’re definitely not alone. In fact, 1 in 5 Australians have arthritis, and may be suffering from unnecessary pain caused by the foods they are eating.
Characterised by a flare up of joints, arthritis doesn’t necessarily have to be treated with medication and light exercise alone – there are a number of ways to relieve aches and pains simply by changing your diet.
But which foods do we choose? It’s not always easy to know with so much advice out there. The foods listed below have been proven time and time again by evidence-based scientific studies, and are easy to find at your local supermarket.
Here are the top six anti-inflammatory foods every person with arthritis should embrace.
Turmeric is fantastic for soothing joint inflammation, and can be enjoyed in a number of meals. You can also enjoy it in a tea with ginger.
Simply mix 2 cups of water, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric in a saucepan until boiled. Strain into a mug, add honey and drink twice a day.
2. Pineapple juice
In over 10 studies, every one of them confirmed that bromelain provided health benefits for osteoarthritis patients.
So if you’d like to try pineapple for your arthritis, the core is where the majority of the bromelain is found. Take the core and juice it! It’s that easy. Even better: pineapple can last cut for up to 6 days in the fridge.
Oh, and remember, eat your pineapple by itself and without additives – it’ll reduce the goodness. Fresh, organic pineapple is best, not canned pineapple or pineapple juice.
Few foods are researched as much as cinnamon. Why? Because it benefits almost every health condition on the planet and is an anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-microbial, and also anti-cancer. It even lowers blood sugar levels and improves circulation.
Cinnamon is great because you can start the day with a good dose. Sprinkle it on muesli in summer, porridge in winter. Dust it over toast – it goes well with jam or peanut butter. Add it to your morning drink or smoothie as a healthier sweetener.
The studies on salmon show it contains docosahexaenoic and eicosapentaenoic acids, which are powerful omega-3s. They have strong anti-inflammatory properties, proven to reduce the pain of arthritis. Salmon is also rich in vitamins A, B12, D and E, iodine, selenium, calcium, zinc and iron, in case you had any doubts.
Salmon is an all-day wonder and partner to many meals. It’s also conveniently available cooked, smoked, tinned, frozen and fresh. At breakfast, serve with organic eggs and wholegrain toast. For lunch, add to a big green salad with a lemon dressing. At dinner time, a salmon steak is delicious with roasted veggies or green beans.
Nuts in general, unsalted and unsweetened, are laced with health benefits. Walnuts are especially bountiful, linked with reduction of both inflammation and cholesterol.
Walnuts are best munched in place of less healthy snacks at break times. Replacing chocolate bars or bag of chips for walnuts is a simple but powerful move you can make to improve your health.
6. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes topped the charts when a team of European scientists tested over 100 foods for their anti-inflammatory properties. It might seem a dull character, but its health benefits, including richness in vitamins A and C, are just another reason to add them to your plate.
Simply substitute your regular spud for nutrient rich sweet potatoes and count the health benefits. They’re delicious mashed with pumpkin as a side, roasted with other veggies or sautéed and added to a salad.
And now for the foods you should avoid:
1. Vegetable oils
Vegies are good for you so vegetable oil should be healthy, right? Wrong – many vegetable oils contain high levels of omega-6 fats that promote inflammation. Palm oil, soybean, safflower, canola, and corn oil are all high in omega -6.
Solution: Use olive oil at low heat only or rice bran oil or coconut oil for high heat cooking. Swap your margarine for an olive oil version too!
Humans eat far too much sugar, and with that high intake, we have high insulin promotes inflammation and even cancer. Diabetes can occur when the pancreas struggles to make enough insulin.
Solution: Avoid refined sugars found in just about everything. Buyer beware, fruit juice has just as much sugar as a can of soft drink. Check out the labels. Many popular cup sized tubs of yoghurt have over 25 grams of sugar, that’s 5 teaspoons!
Alcohol dehydrates the body so toxic waste cannot move freely from the extremities accumulating in muscles causing pain. Alcohol also depletes the body of essential minerals particularly magnesium needed for muscle relaxation.
Solution: Stop drinking. If you want to enjoy a drink, try to keep it to weekends and limit to a couple of glasses.
A little coffee can give you the kick-start you need in the morning and help you blast through a tough workout while it also supports cognitive function, protects the liver, and serves up a healthy dose of antioxidants. But more than 2 in a day drains the body of magnesium and zinc and increases body acidity. Too much caffeine can lead to anxiety, fatigue, headaches and digestive issues, all of which creates additional inflammation within the body.
Solution: Reduce your cups per day, or consider changing to green tea.
5. Dairy products
Yoghurt, ice cream, cottage cheese, butter, cheese etc. are all highly inflammatory for reasons that are too lengthy to list here. Some can contain harmful ingredients, so it’s best to consume sparingly.
Solution: Stick to a lactose-free diet and limit your intake. There is lactose free milk available and many ways to increase your calcium intake.
Tell us, do you have arthritis? How do you deal with symptoms?