These inflammation fighters help reduce pain and may even prevent future flare-ups.
Arthritis isn’t just something you develop as you get older. In fact, arthritis isn’t even a single disease. It’s an umbrella term for the more than 100 different joint diseases that collectively affect nearly a quarter of all U.S. adults, and is one of the nation’s leading causes of disability.
Because arthritis is an autoimmune disease, it tends to be both chronic and progressive. There is no cure, but one area that has shown a lot of promise in helping control symptoms is the study of how phytonutrients (chemicals produced by plants) in food affect the body’s inflammatory response. “Roughly 60 percent of the body’s immune system is located in the gut,” says Micah Yu, MD, a rheumatology fellow at Loma Linda University Medical Center in St. Loma Linda, CA. “That means what you eat has a pretty significant impact on immunity.” While things like red meat, excess salt, refined sugar, processed or fatty foods, dairy products, and alcohol are all potential foods that may cause an autoimmune flare-up, there are also ways to use food to soothe the immune system, says Dr Yu.
Read on for the nutrients and best food sources to add to your diet to help ease arthritis inflammation and the pain that comes with it.
Research published in Frontiers of Nutrition found that for some arthritis patients, dietary fiber can help increase the quality and quantity of healthy bacteria that dwells in the digestive tract, reducing inflammation and joint pain. “Bacteria in the gut turns fiber into anti-inflammatory signals that circulate throughout the whole body,” says Dr. Yu. The best ways to get your fill of fiber is from plant-based sources, such as:
Fruits: All fruits are great, but grapes in particular contain resveratrol, a plant extract which suppresses inflammation.
Vegetables: Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower pack even more anti-inflammatory benefits thanks to the antioxidants they contain.
Whole Grains: Think quinoa and brown rice instead of refined grains that cause increased the risk of inflammation.
Omega-3 fatty acids work similarly to fiber, creating an anti-inflammatory response in the body with the help of resolvins, compounds that help block proinflammatory mediators. A study published in the Global Journal of Health Science discovered that omega-3 fatty acids are so effective that some rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients are able to lower their dose of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to help ease RA symptoms like joint pain. You can find omega-3 fatty acids in foods like:
Fatty fish: Such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna.
Flax seeds: This one’s a double-hitter—as a high source of both omega-3 fatty acids and fiber.
Chia seeds: Also helpful to those with osteoporosis or bone issues, due to its calcium content.
Walnuts: Another omega-3 fatty acid source filled with fiber.
If you’re looking to follow an anti-inflammatory diet, when you eat may be just as important as what. A recent study published in Cell found that intermittent fasting, which limits eating to certain windows of time during the day, may help reduce inflammation. The theory is that overeating or eating too frequently can tax the whole system, which is why Dr. Yu recommends no more than three meals a day if you’re dealing with arthritis.
If you take a prescription for your arthritis like prednisone (Deltasone) or celecoxib (Celebrex), a healthy diet paired with your treatment plan can make all the difference in managing painful symptoms. Fill your prescription with Blink Health to see if you can get your medication for less and shipped straight to your door for free.
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