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Relieve Arthritis Pain With Food

Updated on July 21, 2012

There are over 100 types of arthritis, though only about a dozen of them are considered common. Research has been primarily directed at the more common forms since they affect the most people. Besides Rheumatoid Arthritis, the conditions of Osteoporosis, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Juvenile Arthritis and Restless Leg Syndrome are perhaps the most widely recognized. Up until a few years ago, the medical profession focused on medicating with pharmaceuticals to alleviate pain as a way to treat those who suffer the condition. Today we know that diet can and does affect our body's overall health as well as helping in managing specific illnesses.

Food and weight can have a huge impact on the progression of arthritis. They also can make the difference of whether you're able to move about with minimal pain and stiffness. Being overweight puts extra stress on the joints and increases the wear and tear. For each pound lost, 4 lbs of stress are removed. There's more than the added stress to be considered. Body fat is metabolically active and produces hormones and chemicals that increase levels of inflammation. Just losing weight will cause you to automatically reduce the inflammation at the root of your arthritic pain.

You can gain quite a bit of control over the pain you experience just by increasing intake of certain foods while eliminating others. These specific food groups increase inflammation, and also add weight: Saturated fats, Transfats, and Simple & Refined Carbs.

All processed foods should be eliminated from the diet. Such foods contain two problem ingredients...refined carbohydrates and sugars. The body reacts to refined carbs in the same manner as sugars. They both cause spikes in blood sugar, which researchers say immediately causes inflammation. Glucose spikes also create free radicals that travel through the body attacking cells.

Processed foods also contain refined vegetable oils full of the inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. Before so many processed foods came into vogue, humans were eating an equal number of omega-6's as the omega-3's which are anti-inflammatory. Studies now indicate we're eating about 20 times more omega-6's, with some people consuming as much as 50 times more!

The Worst Refined Carbohydrates Found In The US Diet

  • processed white bread

  • all beverages containing sugars (real and fake), including soft drinks and sports drinks

  • any food with high-fructose corn syrup or other added sugars

  • white rice and white flour pastas

  • frozen desserts

  • packaged and processed cookies, cakes, and doughnuts

  • jams or jellies with sugar added

  • chips and crackers

  • concentrated fruit juices and those that are highly processed

  • boxed breakfast cereals

*** Canola oil has been considered to be a better choice of oils because it's got a better

balance of the omega oils. However, it oxidizes very easily and the result is free radical

production that damages joints.

It's not easy to eliminate so many foods that are so well loved. What's the answer, then? Putting a limit on the amount being consumed will go a long way in easing your pain, but there's another, just as healthy way to eliminate the “owie's”. Add more of the foods that are healing. Not only will they help eliminate pain through a reduction of inflammation, but they'll also help you to fight those awful cravings for the bad foods you find yummy.

Recent studies have proven the healing ability of certain foods to stop joint pain and subdue inflammation, while protecting joint tissue from destructive free radicals. Foods high in magnesium can even repair damaged cartilage. The foods you'll want to incorporate into your diet as replacements for most of the “no-no” foods are those high in vitamins A, C, and E, in addition to those with high magnesium content and omega-3 fatty acids.

Fruits (high in vitamin C)

  • Strawberries

  • Cataloupe

  • Kiwi Fruit

  • Papaya

  • Peaches

  • Apples

  • Mangos

Vegetables (high in vitamins A and C)

  • Collards

  • Spinach

  • Squash

  • Brussel Sprouts

  • Sweet Potatoes

  • Bell Pepper

  • Broccoli

Fish (Omega-3's and vitamin E)

  • Salmon

  • Herring

  • Mackerel

  • Sardines

  • Tuna

  • Trout

Nuts and Seeds (Omega-3's and vitamin E)

  • Walnuts

  • Sunflower Seeds

  • Brazil Nuts

  • Linseeds

  • Almonds

  • Pumpkin Seeds

Anti-inflammatory Foods

  • All lentils

  • Chick Peas

  • Apples

  • Brown Rice

  • Whole wheat bread


High Magnesium Foods

  • Black beans
  • Broccoli,
  • raw Halibut
  • Peanuts
  • Okra
  • Oysters
  • Plantain
  • Rockfish
  • Scallops
  • Pumpkin/Squash seeds
  • Soy milk
  • Spinach, cooked
  • Tofu
  • Whole grain cereals
  • Whole wheat bread

Why not top off all your cooking efforts with spices and herbs that have also proven to be anti-inflammatory? Researchers have discovered that black pepper reduces the perception of pain and reduces inflammation. Research presented at the British Pharmaceutical Conference (2009) showed that two types of basil (Ocimum americanum and Ocimum tenuiflorum) reduced joint swelling by 73% in less than 24 hours. In addition to the two listed, there are thirteen more top anti-inflammatory spices and herbs: cardamom, cayenne chamomile, chives, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, garlic, ginger, parsley, nutmeg, rosemary, and turmeric. Ginger and turmeric rest at the top of the list for their strength.

When it comes to choosing an oil for uses in cooking or making dressings, condiments, etc, you'll want to use extra-virgin olive oil. Researchers have found the properties of this oil to be similar to NSAIDS. 3 ½ tbsp per day provides the same relieve of about 200 mg ibuprofen. Since this amount also equals 400 calories, it's best to use it in place of other fatty ingredients like butter.

Following a special diet is easier said than done. Restaurants and friends don't always have offerings that match your special needs. However, when it comes to eating to repair arthritis and reduce the pain associated, there is a wide range of foods from which to choose. The most important thing to remember is to eat more of the good foods than those that aggravate the condition. A complete elimination is always best, but if you only manage to remove processed foods from your diet, the battle is halfway won.


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    • Terri Meredith profile image

      Terri Meredith 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Will do... and thanks again. ;)

    • MellyMoo profile image

      MellyMoo 5 years ago from Australia

      Don't apologise Terri. I, like yourself, am always researching health&learning amazing things that can help to better my health&that of all i know. I am interested in what you learnt about those drugs&can tell you that i am currently being weaned iff an antidepressant (my choice) & abiut to sit mt anatomy&physiology exam in afew weeks. Keep writing :)

    • Terri Meredith profile image

      Terri Meredith 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      You're welcom Lyricallor! I see you suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis, so I hope it truly will help you. There's so much we can do to ease pain and illness with diet. Thank you for commenting.

    • Lyricallor profile image

      Lorna Lorraine 5 years ago from Croydon

      Great job, Terri! This is useful information and well researched. Thank you for sharing.

    • Terri Meredith profile image

      Terri Meredith 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Thanks Melly... I keep thinking I'm going to write something easy and light, but every time I start doing a little research, I find one more thing that shows how toxic our world has become at the hands of greed and avarice. I worry that I'm starting to sound like a broken record or that people will think I'm going looking for problems. Not to beat my own drum, but I did a 4 part series on statin drugs and it left me just furious at the FDA, Big Pharma, and even the medical profession. I wish people would wake up! OK, I'll get off my soapbox now...sorry. :p Thanks for everything!

    • MellyMoo profile image

      MellyMoo 5 years ago from Australia

      What a wonderful, informative hub! I agree that most illnesses would disappear if people spent the time&energy cooking decent food! Please keep putting this important info out there :) voted up, useful, awesome&everything!

    • Terri Meredith profile image

      Terri Meredith 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      @losefat: If everyone spent more time in the kitchen turning whole foods into their meals, I truly believe we would eliminate most of the illnesses that seem to be growing by leaps and bounds each year. I don't think anyone really thought about the dangers back in the 50's and 60's until some of the stuff began to be pulled back off the shelves because of side affects. Now, it's such a part of everyone's life, most people simply don't make the connection between their illnesses and their food.

      @Keith Ham: I'm so glad you may be able to use this information. I, personally, can attest to the difference a diet can make in health. Since I cut out preservatives and additives, I know longer wake up with pain in my hips or elbows, which used to be so painful I could only sleep a few hours at a time. I can now sleep a straight 6 or 7!

      Thanks for your comments!

    • Keith Ham profile image

      Keith Ham 5 years ago from Niagara Falls, Ontario

      Seeing I have hereditary athritis from my father, this might be helpful for me! Great article!

    • losefat101 profile image

      losefat101 5 years ago from Singapore

      Many of us overlooked the importance of having fresh nutritional foods. We are becoming dependent on more and more processed and preserved foods. Not that we don't have a choice, but the varieties presented to us and the advertisement hypes turn us to compulsive and impulsive consumers. Still, these are not to be made reasons as to why we can't start healthy eating. I've learnt new infos about arthritis from this hub! Keep it up!