Foods for Osteoarthritis : which to enjoy and which to avoid

Foods for Osteoarthritis

The flavonoids found in berries have anti-inflammatory effects.

Some food has been shown to reduce inflammation while others have been shown to increase inflammation. Therefore choosing the correct foods for osteoarthritis is a vital part of the lifestyle changes you should make in order to relieve your symptoms.

Although osteoarthritis is a non-inflammatory arthritis the muscles, tendons and ligaments become inflamed around the joint. Osteoarthritis is a wearing of the cartilage that protects the bone but cartilage has no nerve endings so doesn’t cause pain. The pain from the actual osteoarthritis is from the bone underneath which does have nerve ending. Bone doesn’t rub on bone until the later stages of the condition and will only occur when you actually put pressure on the affected joint.

This means the majority of the pain you suffer in the early stages comes from the surrounding soft tissue being inflamed (which is why so many Doctors prescribe NSAIDs even though there are better ways to treat inflamed soft tissue). If you have severe osteoarthritis you will still get pain from the inflammation  and only the sharp, ground glass pain inside your joint is from the actual degeneration, the rest is from inflamed soft tissue.

Therefore relieving the inflammation in the surrounding soft tissue, no matter how bad your osteoarthritis will reduce the pain you suffer.

This is a great article by Judith McElhinney from the Mayo News about the foods for osteoarthritis. It clearly explains which are the best foods for osteoarthritis and which you should avoid, giving examples and explaining why.

Foods for Osteoarthritis

Diet plays an important role in reducing inflammation and can help to relieve the pain and discomfort associated with arthritis. Certain foods have pro-inflammatory effects, and can exacerbate the condition. It is best to avoid or cut down on red meat, saturated and trans fats, refined carbohydrates (sugar and white flour) and stimulants like caffeine. Animal fats are high in a fatty acid called arachidonic acid, which is linked to inflammation.
Any foods that cause sensitivity also contribute to inflammation and should be identified and eliminated. Common allergenic foods include wheat, eggs, soya and dairy products. Vegetables from the high-alkaloid ‘nightshade’ family should be avoided, as they have been linked to increased joint inflammation and stiffness. Nightshade vegetables include potatoes, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, aubergines, paprika, cayenne and Tabasco sauce).

The news is not all bad, however. Many foods have anti-inflammatory effects. The most famous of these are the essential fatty acids – Omega 3 and Omega 6, which are found in foods like oily fish (mackerel, sardines, salmon, halibut), linseeds and walnuts. The flavonoids found in berries, apples and green tea all have anti-inflammatory effects, as well as helping to prevent the breakdown of bone and cartilage.
The antioxidant vitamins A, C and E help reduce the oxidative damage associated with inflammation. Carrots, sweet potatoes, apricots and spinach are all rich in vitamin A. Kiwis, lemons, watercress and oranges are all good sources of vitamin C, while wheat germ, avocados, spinach, almonds, and sunflower seeds are all rich sources of vitamin E.
Calcium and magnesium are crucial for bone and joint health. Good non-dairy sources of calcium include: leafy green vegetables, dulse (or dillisk), root vegetables, nuts and seeds, tinned fish and even mineral water. Green leafy vegetables, pumpkin seeds and legumes are also good sources of magnesium, which may relieve some of the muscular discomfort associated with arthritis by helping the muscles to relax.
Glucosamine is a compound that occurs naturally in our bodies and may stimulate the production of cartilage-building proteins. The enzyme that makes glucosamine becomes less effective with age, and therefore less glucosamine is produced. A possible result of this deficiency is that the body’s rate of tissue damage overtakes its capacity for repair. Chondroitin is another naturally occurring compound that may inhibit the production of cartilage-destroying enzymes and fight inflammation. Since there are no food sources of glucosamine or chondroitin, these must be taken in supplement form to support joint health.”

If you change change your diet and start eating the right foods for osteoarthritis you will reduce the  inflammation and so relieve your symptoms.

However eating the right foods for osteoarthritis is not the only lifestyle change you should make. Sign up for my free course here to learn more about simple lifestyle changes you can make and home treatments you can use to relieve your pain and stiffness.


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16 Responses to Foods for Osteoarthritis : which to enjoy and which to avoid

  1. anne doyle says:

    hello i have just read your article on osteoarthritis and found it very imformitive
    as i suffer from osteoarthritis in my shoulder i would like to learn some more about
    what lifestile changes i should make to improve my condition .Looking foward to hearing from you keep up the good work thank you Anne Doyle

  2. gh nabi says:

    it is very informative thanks

  3. Lisa Peters says:

    I have this arthritis in my lumbar spine which is putting pressure on my nerves and causing pain in my hip. I am 43, 5’4″, 125 pounds, I have been dairy, and wheat(gluten ) free for a year and have found that the psorisis(sp?) on my hands cleared up completely after six months. Winter is bad for me and the pain is worst, I also don’t eat as well as I should in the cold months. I am a comfort food person, but I eat sweet potatoes everyday, no more white potatoes. What can I also do? Thanks

  4. Stacey says:

    I’m not even sure I have oa, but have joint pain lower back neck and hips and a sore spot on back of right high thigh – mris have shown degeneration – how do we know it’s osteoarthritis?

    • sophie says:

      Hi, yes you have osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is also known as wear and tear or degeneration or degenerative joint disease.
      Sign up for my free course to find out how to relieve your symptoms

  5. Kay Goodson says:

    I had to have a hip replacement 2 yrs ago due to osteoarthritis and since then have developed excruciating pain in my ankles. The left one is so bad at times that I can barely put weight on it at all. I have tried ankle braces and good shoes for support, but nothing seems to help. I am on Diclofenac also. It seems I have flare ups with this because I may have a few good days and then ” bang”! it is back. I need to lose weight, but cannot be active enough to exercise or go walking due to the pain. Do you have any suggestions for relief?

  6. Mark Elicott says:

    Your site is very informative and I have found much of it useful. I have just found out I have OA in both my big toe joints. I also have bunions there too. Apart from wearing appropriate footwear is there anything you would recommend that I do to alleviate things ? Is this a degenerative condition and get worse over time….or does it come and go? At what point does surgery become a likely option ? Thanks. Mark

    • Dr. Sophie says:

      Hi Mark, it’s quite common to get OA at the base of the big toe and yes there is lots you can do about it. The big toe joint is no different from any other joint (such as the knee or hip) so you can use all the treatments you use on them on your big toes.
      Yes this is a degenerative condition that will get worse over years to come. Surgery may become necessary but not in all cases. (You don’t say how old you are). In the mean time you will have good times and bad times. The wear and tear hasn’t changed but the pain from the muscles, tendons and ligaments (the soft tissue) comes and goes and it is this you can control. You can do this in lots of different ways.
      May I suggest you either sign up for my 3 day course in Pain Management for Osteoarthritis or simply jump straight in and buy my book for the foot and toes. That will give you EVERYTHING you need to know in including giving you a suitable exercise program which is the most important thing you can do to control the soft tissue pain . There is no risk as there is a money back guarantee.
      I hope that helps a bit. Please feel free to contact me direct if you wish.

  7. Jan Lattier says:

    Pain in the big toe, ankles, knees, anywhere really, can be gout. I have 3 kinds of arthritis, but I was diagnosed with gout last year. It feels like OA, but really hurts. Now I’m trying to eat less acidic foods. You should tell people that it isn’t always OA, it could also be gout. I don’t drink, but I need to eat more plant based foods and use meat or fish as a condiment.

  8. cecilia says:

    My mum is also suffering from this disease and she is unable to do the exercise what should I do?

    • Dr. Sophie says:

      Yes she can and must do an exercise program for her affected joint(s)!
      It may hurt a bit to start but as long as she is doing an exercise program that is suitable for the amount of degeneration she has and how it affects her then exercises will do nothing but good.
      Please note that doing an exercise program for a specific joint is different from exercising. She will only be able to exercise when she has done a specific exercise program to get her joint(s) moving again.

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