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Tips for Grocery Shopping with Arthritis

Updated on February 25, 2015

Information on RA

When I was much younger, I had a friend in high school that was affected by rheumatoid arthritis (RA). I didn't quite understand what it was, only that it was a disease that only the old folks had. She told me that it started when she was much younger, but was very glad that it was in remission at the time. Back then, I didn't understand how it affected her, but several years later, after contracting this disease myself in 2006, I understand first hand.

If you have just been diagnosed with RA, or have been suffering from it's effects for years, here are a few things that you should know more about to help you better manage your symptoms.

  • Exercise for RA
  • Arthritis Massage Therapy
  • Diet for RA
  • Foods Good for Arthritis
  • Bad Foods for Arthritis

Exercises for RA


Exercise for RA

Quite simply, as you get older, it's all about use it or lose it. It's enough to get you off your duff, and up on your feet to work out. Just as you slowly lose muscle as you age, if you don't work those muscles at all, you will lose it faster - never to regain the same muscle mass, ever.

Just like your muscles, once you lose the ability to move your joints, they stiffen and lock in place. You have to work your joints, even though there is pain, you have to work your joints out. After awhile you will realize that your joints feel better, and that there is less pain after you have acclimated your joints to your exercise routine.

Piano, guitar, and other hobbies that give your hands a work out are great for keeping your hands strong and helps to fight off the effects of bone damage and deformity. Squeezing a tennis ball, or using those hand-grip exercisers as pictured will also help to strengthen your hands.

Arthritic Massage

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Arthritis Massage Therapy

Many people feel that their joints are helped by massage, and I must agree that massage really works for me. Don't get me wrong, it hurts, but it is very necessary to get my joints loosened up. If you have pain or stiffness in your hands, let your masseuse know when they need to go a little lighter on their touch. When I eat the wrong foods, I sometimes wake in the morning very stiff, and it takes a longer period of time to get my body and hands loose. At times, a good hot soak with Epson salts for your hands, feet or body loosens things up enough so that it doesn't hurt much, but it should hurt a little because they are working your joints. You can even do these deep massages yourself, or like I do, I train my daughter to massage my hands.

Of course if possible, it is better to have a massage therapist that is recommended by your doctor, or one that understands the needs of patients that may be suffering from arthritis.

Tell-tale signs of a person suffering from arthritis - swollen joints at mid knuckle.
Tell-tale signs of a person suffering from arthritis - swollen joints at mid knuckle. | Source
The classic "swan-neck" deformation of the index finger pictured.
The classic "swan-neck" deformation of the index finger pictured. | Source

Diet for RA

Diet plays a huge roll in how you manage your arthritis. What you choose to eat can either help your arthritis condition or hinder it by making your joints flare with pain and swelling. There are many web sites that argue back and forth about what foods are good for you, and what foods are bad - take garlic. Some web sites place so much benefit to this food enhancer that you would think it was the next elixir while others claim it can do more damage to your body than you realize. The best thing to do in such cases is to do some research, and talk to your doctor on your next visit to see what his thoughts are.

Also, keep a diet journal of times when you feel great, and times when your joints feel swollen and inflamed. They should be in direct correlation of the types of foods you ate, or are eating. And as always, drink lots of water, and make sure the water is filtered. Drinking water adds fluid to your whole body, hydrating, making your skin look and feel younger. Drinking water also flushes toxins out of your body that's released through deep tissue massage, so bottoms up.

Brazil Nuts, a high source of selenium - freezing them first makes it easier to crack.
Brazil Nuts, a high source of selenium - freezing them first makes it easier to crack. | Source
Citrus fruits like oranges give your body a natural and healthy vitamin C boost.
Citrus fruits like oranges give your body a natural and healthy vitamin C boost. | Source
Salmon, chocked full of Omega 3 fatty acid.
Salmon, chocked full of Omega 3 fatty acid. | Source
Go Nuts for healthier joints.
Go Nuts for healthier joints. | Source

Foods Good for Arthritis

I don't have to tell that extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is good for your joints, or that spices like ginger and turmeric can help your joints, you should already know this. I use EVOO with everything I cook in the kitchen, and eat a little pickled ginger with every meal. Here are just a few of the foods that promote healthy joints:

  • Omega 3 Fatty Acid Foods
  • Foods Rich in Vitamin C
  • Foods Rich in Antioxidants

Omega 3 Fatty Acid Foods
As much as possible, you would rather eat the foods that contain these much needed Foods high in omega 3 fatty acids like salmon and sardines, nuts and seeds. Foods that contain omega 3s also contain other active ingredients that help your body stay healthy. You should be adding at least 1 gram of Omega 3 Fatty Acid to your diet; a handful of walnuts, a tablespoon of flax seed, or 4 ounces of salmon will easily do the trick.

Omega 3 fatty acid gives arthritis a 1 - 2 punch by releasing chemicals in the body that not only stops the spread of inflammation, but stops the enzymes that cause the inflammation.

Foods Rich in Vitamin C
Vitamin C is probably one of the most abused vitamins that we are programmed to consume without thinking. With vitamin C and those who suffer from arthritis, moderation is key. High dosages of vitamin C could hurt more than help your joints.

Your vitamin C dosage should be at about 200 - 500 milligrams a day. An orange and some broccoli will bring you into this range in no time. Citrus fruits, broccoli and cauliflower are just a few of the fruits that are packed with vitamin C. Vitamin C helps collagen stay healthy, which in turn helps your joints stay healthy.

Foods Rich in Antioxidants
Brazil nuts, tuna, beef and turkey all have various levels of selenium - Brazil nuts carrying the biggest wallop at over 200 micrograms in just a few nuts. The recommended daily allowance is 55 - 200 micrograms of Selenium.

Quercetin is an antioxidant that may act similar to ibuprofen by affecting inflammatory chemicals - but this one is still on the table as far as research folks so you should record in your food journal and check your bodie's reaction. Here are a few foods that contain Quercetin; Onions, leeks, kale, cherry tomatoes and apples are all high in quercetin.

Here is one killer antioxidant that will affect inflammation. They are found in several fruits that have bright color like cherries, grapes, black raspberries and eggplant. The good thing about it is that it will work in your body in any form; frozen, fresh, or juice.

Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG)
Besides being a mouthful to say, EGCG promotes healthy joints by lowering the amount of substances in the body that can cause damage to your joints. The antioxidants and nutrients found in green tea will directly affect your arthritis. A cup of tea every time you have a meal will do the trick. There are so many benefits from drinking green tea, that this is one habit that you should incorporate as soon as possible.

Red meat and other fatty foods is a leading culprit and trigger to inflamation.
Red meat and other fatty foods is a leading culprit and trigger to inflamation. | Source
Though there are good properties in eggplant, this vegetable falls under the night-shade vegetables which contain solanine, a chemical that promotes joint swelling.
Though there are good properties in eggplant, this vegetable falls under the night-shade vegetables which contain solanine, a chemical that promotes joint swelling. | Source
Hot peppers and sweet peppers also fall under the nightshade group that contain the chemical solanine which causes inflammation.
Hot peppers and sweet peppers also fall under the nightshade group that contain the chemical solanine which causes inflammation. | Source
Dairy products contain chemicals that are harmful to your joints.
Dairy products contain chemicals that are harmful to your joints. | Source

Bad Foods for Arthritis

I don't have to tell you that red meat is bad, it is. Although I love a great juicy and fatty steak, my intake of red meat has gone down from a twice weekly dinner, to a once a month event. Red meat - it's added chemicals, coloring and preservatives all affect not only your joints, but your body as a whole. Dairy products are as harmful to your joints and should also be avoided or curbed in your diet. Here are just a few of the other foods that are harmful to your joints:

  • Omega 6 Fatty Acids
  • Simply Sugar
  • Refined Carbs
  • Nightshade Vegetables

Omega-6 Fatty Acid

Sunflower, safflower, corn, vegetable and soybean oils are all high in omega-6 fatty acids that are known to increase inflammation. Watch out for baked goods and snacks because this is the turn-to oils for them. They may taste good, but the cost of joint pain and swelling might be too much to pay later.

Simply Sugar

There are some studies that link sugar to inflammation, but the more harmful factor is the high calories in sugar. Beverages that contain sugar, fake sugars, high fructose corn syrup and any other drink or product that lists 'added sugars' fall into this category. Sugar turns into fat which turns into weight gain, which is very harmful to your body's joints. The extra weight that you carry around your mid-section adds un-necessary stress on your joints.

Although sugar may feel like it gives you energy, there is still the 'crash' that doesn't help those that suffer with arthritis. Arthritis makes you feel like you don't want to move as it is, you don't need other chemicals compounding this.

There are several sweeteners that are readily available in any grocery store that you might want to try. Use your journal to make the right change for your body.

Refined Carbs

Refined carbs like processed white bread, any baked goods that are processed and packaged, white rice, white flour products like pasta, frozen desserts, and last but not least (be still my heart) chips and crackers.

Here is where most people have a hard time, because it eliminates all the unhealthy snacks that we have come to love, but it opens you up to sampling and finding new and more nutritious snacks that are better for you and your joints.

Nightshade Vegetables

Simply put, nightshade vegetables are vegetables that grow in the shade of night. Vegetables like potatoes (excluding sweet varieties), eggplant, and tomatoes contain a chemical called solanine that causes inflammation in joints. These vegetables are just the most popular in the nightshade family, but gives you a good idea of what to avoid or cut back on in your diet.


You should know that I am not a doctor, nor am I qualified to give medical advise. This hub is purely informational, and should be viewed as such. This hub is based on my own research, treatment and exercises that work for me. Before attempting these exercises and foods suggested, I urge you to do your own research and always check with your doctor first. Peace. Kawi.


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    • KawikaChann profile image

      KawikaChann 5 years ago from Northwest, Hawaii, Anykine place

      Thanks for your comment peachpurple, I hope they find it as helpful as I did. For myself, I'm trying the Brazil nuts for the first time in my life. I'll note any changes to my condition, and record my finding here as results show. I hope your in-laws find good health. Peace. Kawi.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 5 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      You have mentioned all the food to eat and to avoid, that is important arthritis patients. Very informative with all the relevant points taken. My in laws have this problem. Will print it out for them. Voted useful


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