When you think about ways to reduce arthritis pain, changing your diet may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But although arthritis may not seem closely related to what you eat, the truth is, the foods you eat affect your joints much more than you may think.
That said, no one has yet perfected a diet “cure” for arthritis. However, certain foods are known to help reduce inflammation associated with arthritis, and other symptoms, like joint stiffness.
By adding these choices—called “anti-inflammatory” foods—to your diet, and later, reducing foods that are considered “inflammatory” (more on that later) you might be pleasantly surprised to notice your joint pain and stiffness lessening.
Here are examples of foods with anti-inflammatory properties you can try adding to your diet to help improve the symptoms of your arthritis:
- Cherry Juice (tart, not sweet)
- Fatty Fish
- Green Leafy Vegetables
- Box Choy
- Swiss chard
How to Get Started
If your current diet includes few or none of the foods on this list, don’t worry—it’s better anyway to make small, gradual changes to your diet, since it will be easier for your body to adapt and you’re more likely to stick with your new, healthier routine. So, instead of completely emptying your pantry and starting from scratch, gradually build a diet that can help reduce your joint pain and stiffness one step at a time.
Once you’ve discovered new foods you like, you can start eliminating any inflammation-causing foods that are still in your diet without feeling deprived—just like you did with adding new foods, do it gradually. In general, these inflammatory foods include anything that is highly processed, with additives or artificially dyed, or with a high sugar content.
Here are some other tips to help support your efforts to build a healthier, anti-inflammatory diet:
- If you have arthritis in your hands, sometimes preparing foods can be difficult, such as cutting fresh vegetables or opening a can of tuna. If this is true for you, try using precut frozen fruits and vegetables instead, and look for tuna and salmon in sealed pouches.
- If your diet changes aren’t helping you as much as you’d like, consider eliminating wheat. It’s not necessary to go all in and join the gluten-free movement, but you may have a sensitivity to wheat that is causing inflammation in your body.
- When flavoring foods, try using turmeric and ginger—both are known for their anti-inflammatory properties.
- When you’re starting out, buy a variety of fresh fruits and veggies in very small qualities and discover what you like best.
Finally, remember that while changing your diet can help bring about positive changes, when you combine an anti-inflammatory diet with other healthy lifestyle behaviors—such
as getting enough daily physical activity, sleep and following your doctor’s advice—the results will likely be even better.