Arthritis is a group of conditions that affect the joints. There are more than 100 types of arthritis and people of any age can suffer from the effects. It is the number one cause of disability in America, affecting over 50 million adults and 300,000 children. Arthritis is more common with age and occurs more often in women than men. Symptoms in the joints include swelling, stiffness, pain, and reduced range of motion. The condition often worsens over time. There is no cure for arthritis, but there are ways to reduce painful symptoms.
A healthy diet is an important tool in keeping arthritis symptoms minimized. Many foods contain anti-inflammatory properties and other healing benefits. Foods high in antioxidants and vitamins help rid the body of infection and build stronger muscles to better support joints. A diet change is often helpful in aiding weight loss which helps relieve pressure on the joints. These foods can help reduce the painful symptoms of arthritis.
Strawberries are loaded with vitamin C. In fact, a serving contains even more of this immune-helping vitamin than an orange. Vitamin C is also useful in the prevention of Gout, which can contribute to arthritis in affected areas. Naturally sweet, but low in sugar, this healthy snack reduces body-wide inflammation that is related to arthritis flare-ups when eaten regularly. Strawberries also contain folic acid which may become depleted with the use of arthritis medication.
Walnuts contain a high alpha linoleic acid (ALA) content. ALA is an anti-inflammatory omega- 3 fatty acid. Studies have determined that walnuts can lower inflammation related to arthritis flare-ups and risks of cardiovascular disease. Walnuts boast more antioxidants than other nuts. Antioxidants help fight inflammation by ridding the body of cell-damaging free radicals. Walnuts also boast a whopping 18 grams of protein to help build strong muscles to support joints. With a filling crunchy texture, walnuts are great for a satisfying snack or a good addition to a meatless meal.
Studies have shown anti-inflammatory properties in olive oil. Olive oil is high in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, and monounsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats help fight high cholesterol and inflammation. Extra virgin olive oil is pressed instead of processed with heat. This helps maintain biological compounds which reduce joint damage in rheumatoid arthritis. Extra virgin oil has a low smoke point making it less suitable for cooking. However, it is useful in salad dressings and finishing foods.
Among its many other health benefits, broccoli reduces inflammatory markers. Broccoli contains sulforaphane, a natural compound which blocks the inflammatory process. Sulforaphane can even slow cartilage damage from osteoarthritis. Some evidence suggests that vegetables high in sulforaphane could prevent rheumatoid arthritis from developing. Broccoli also contains other inflammation-fighting properties including omega- 3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamin C. Broccoli maintains the most health benefits when prepared by steaming for 10 minutes.
Fatty fish like sardines, trout, and salmon are high in omega- 3 fatty acids. These acids are among the most effective ways to treat inflammation with food. The type of omega-3 acids found in fish are especially potent. Fatty acids from fish interfere with cells responsible for the body's immune response. Research shows that patients with diets high in fatty fish are less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis, and those already affected experience decreased joint pain and swelling. For best results, these types of fish should be consumed 2 - 4 times a week.
Dark leafy greens contain many nutrients, some of which help relieve inflammation. Spinach is filled with antioxidants including significant amounts of vitamins K, A, and C. Vitamin K is especially useful in lowering inflammatory markers in the blood. Antioxidants in spinach destroy free radicals which attack healthy cells and lead to inflammation. Spinach also contains calcium which helps strengthen joints and surrounding bones. To reap the most benefits, try spinach raw as vitamins and antioxidants are affected by heat.
Garlic contains many health benefits to help fight arthritis symptoms. The result eating garlic is less pain, swelling, and cartilage damage from arthritis. Garlic is a compliment to most savory meals. Choose fresh garlic from the produce section. Bottled versions can contain additives loaded with sodium and lose health benefits through processing.