Adding some items in your diet and reducing your intake of others will reduce inflammation and soothe joint pain.
Often referred to as a single disease, arthritis is actually an umbrella term for more than 100 medical conditions. These conditions affect the musculoskeletal system, specifically joints where two or more bones meet. The three most common forms include osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis.
Although it affects people of all ages, women and the elderly are most at risk. While regular physical activity, using assistive devices and hot/cold therapies are necessary, maintaining an anti-inflammatory diet will help manage the pain.
Add these to your diet:
• Cruciferous vegetables: Vegetables such as broccoli, kale, cauliflower and cabbage contain the compound sulforaphane, which is known to block inflammation and damage to cartilage. These foods are also extremely alkalising and maintain the pH level of the blood. Over time, this will minimise the onset of inflammation. Broccoli and leafy greens also contain calcium, a mineral which helps maintain bone health and strength.
• Nuts and seeds: These are a good source of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, protein and antioxidants. Certain nuts are rich in magnesium, I-arginine and Vitamin E which keep inflammation in check. Walnuts and flaxseeds are particularly beneficial for arthritis sufferers.
• Red and purple fruits: Fruits like cherries, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries contain anthocyanins. These powerful flavonoids help inhibit the production of certain inflammatory chemicals. These compounds also contribute to the health of connective tissue and defuse the attack from free radicals.
• Oily fish: Fish like salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel have antiinflammatory properties. They contain the omega-3 fatty acids — eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), both of which are absent in nuts and seeds. A source of lean protein, fish helps support cartilage and the repair of muscle tissue.
• Turmeric: This spice contains the active chemical curcumin, an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. To enhance the absorption of turmeric in the body, pair it with black pepper.
• Pulses: Iron is important in preventing anaemia and many arthritis patients are anaemic. Along with leafy greens and red meat, pulses like lentils and chickpeas contain a significant amount of iron. The body absorbs iron better when consumed with Vitamin C so pair it with citrus fruits, broccoli etc.
• Red meat: The fat in red meat is highly acidic and readily metabolised into inflammatory chemicals that cause swelling and painful inflammation in the joints. The saturated fat in animal protein also damages cartilage and joints.
• Sugar and refined carbohydrates: Blood sugar levels surge after consumption of such foods, prompting the body to produce pro-inflammatory chemicals called cytokines.
• Junk food: The sodium in such foods promotes water retention. Swollen veins put pressure on inflamed joints, aggravating the pain of sufferers.
• Dairy: Although a good source of protein, dairy products are extremely inflammatory. Instead, opt for plant-based sources of protein such as beans, legumes and whole soybean products (like edamame and tofu, for example).