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.