Foods have long been linked to good health. There are foods to eat for a healthy heart. And everyone knows to avoid certain food if you have diabetes. And then of course there are food allergies and some people who need to eat foods that are gluten-free. But did you know that your arthritis pain could actually be improved just by eating certain foods?
It’s true. Of course, there’s no dietary “cure” for arthritis, but according to the Arthritis Foundation, there are some foods that are known to decrease inflammation, strengthen bones and boost your immune system. All of which work to ease your arthritis symptoms.
Get out your grocery list and take a look:
Fish. Omega-3 fatty acids are good at fighting inflammation so stock up on fish. Tuna, herring, mackerel and salmon are especially good choices. Try to eat 3-4 ounces of fish twice a week. Baked, broiled or grilled, you’ll find fish tastes great with a good marinade and a side order of onions, peppers and mushrooms.
Soy. Another food rich in omega-3 fatty acids, soy is a nice alternative to fish for vegetarians or those that aren’t seafood fans. Soybeans, edamame and tofu give you a lot of alternatives. Try tofurkey, soymilk and everyday items that are created with soy instead of regular flour –crackers, cookies, and even soynut butter. Look in the “special” dietary section of your local grocery store. An added bonus – soy is high in protein and fiber and low in fat.
Cherries. Yum, yum, yum. They taste so delicious, it’s easy to forget that they’re healthy! Cherries are especially good as a pain reliever for gout, an intense form of arthritis. Besides flavor, they have something called anthocyanins, which have anti-inflammatory properties. If you don’t like cherries (what?!) you’ll find anthocyanins in raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries. These fruits are healthiest by themselves or in a salad, of course, but an occasional pie, tart or topping for ice cream or pancakes is better than nothing, right?
Garlic. Onions, garlic and leeks are all members of the allium family. And for whatever reason, studies have shown that people who spice up their foods with these ingredients show fewer signs of early osteoarthritis. Also, one of the properties of garlic has been shown to decrease enzymes that can damage your cartilage. And if that’s not enough to convince you, remember this – garlic will also keep you safe from vampires!
Green tea. Who says good foods need chewing? Green tea is full of antioxidants. Polyphenol is one that reduces inflammation and also slows down the wear and tear on your cartilage. And another one known as EGCG for short interferes with joint-damaging molecules, providing relief for those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. Drink up!
Dairy. If Dairy Queen is what comes to mind when you first hear the word dairy, you aren’t alone. An occasional indulgence of DQ ice cream is perfectly fine – and certainly understandable — but keep in mind that there are other forms of dairy out there as well. Milk, yogurt and cheese are all great choices. Calcium and vitamin D strengthen bones and vitamin D also boosts your immune system — all good things for arthritis-sufferers.
Oil. You often hear the TV chefs talking about extra virgin olive oil. It’s in all the recipes! And for good reason – olive oil has heart-healthy fats and one other really important “it” factor. That secret property is oleocanthal, which acts much like an anti-inflammatory non-steroidal drug. But if you don’t like olive oil or are looking for other healthy fats, there are other good choices out there. Try avocado or safflower oil, which are also good for lowering cholesterol. Or walnut oil which has a whopping ten times more omega-3s than olive oil! Who even knew there was a walnut oil?
Broccoli. Notice that we didn’t say vegetables. Nope, for now, just broccoli. Of course all vegetables are good for you. Veggies offer millions of health benefits. But it’s the vitamins C and K and another compound called sulforaphane that make broccoli an arthritis-fighter extraordinaire! Researchers report finding that sulforaphane appears to slow or even prevent the progression of osteoarthritis. And it doesn’t hurt that broccoli is also packed with calcium for strong bones. Try it dipped in a sour cream-based dressing for a double whammy.
Citrus. The word alone is enough to transport you to the warm sunny tropics. Or maybe Florida. Oranges and lemons and limes, oh my. And don’t forget grapefruit. These citrus fruits are as healthy as they taste. Loaded with vitamin C, they’re a good bet for maintaining your joint health.
And nuts. They’re good for your weight, good for your heart and good for your taste buds. Packed with protein, calcium, zinc, vitamin E, magnesium and alpha linoleic acid, nuts boost your immunities while filling you up. Any nut is better than no nuts, but almonds, walnuts and pistachios are especially healthy choices. So go ahead and go nuts.
And as the saying goes… sometimes you feel like a nut. But if you’re trying to slow down or reduce arthritis pain and joint deterioration, it would do you well to also feel like (eating) fruits, vegetables, fish, dairy and olive oil — among other good things. Be sure to keep these tips in mind if you’re doing your own cooking.
Discovery Village at Sugarloaf offers a variety of senior living programs to keep seniors healthy and active. Learn about our senior living options and amenities today when you contact us at 770.884.7686.