Foods That Fight Arthritis
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Foods That Fight Arthritis

You can fight arthritis with medication and with your diet. What you choose to feed yourself can help you fight the inflammation in your body. What you put into your body really does count. Arthritis is not a single disease; rather it is a category that includes about a hundred disorders that involve joints and inflammation. Most people do not realize how much nutrition can improve the way they feel.

When it comes to specific foods you should eat, an anti-inflammatory diet involves avoiding foods that make inflammation worse, like saturated fat, trans fat and simple refined carbohydrates. To fight arthritis try eating more of these foods:

  • Omega 3 fatty acids – Omega 3’s actually work to decrease inflammation by suppressing the production of cytokines and enzymes that erode cartilage. More than a dozen studies have demonstrated that Omega-3 fish oils can reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil contains the “good” monounsaturated fat, which protects the body against inflammation because it contains antioxidants called polyphenols. Use olive oil when cooking, instead of vegetable oil or butter. Don’t load it on — just substitute one for the other in equal or lesser amounts.

  • Vitamin C:  Vitamin C is one of the nutrients most responsible for the health of collagen, a major component of cartilage. In addition, research suggests that people who eat a diet low in vitamin C may have a greater risk of developing some kinds of arthritis. For those reasons, it is important to make vitamin C-rich foods an important part of your daily diet. However, researchers at Duke University found that long-term, high-dose vitamin C supplements may make osteoarthritis worse. Some of the best foods for vitamin C: guava, sweet peppers (yellow/red/green), oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, pineapple, kohlrabi, papayas, lemons, broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts, kidney beans, kiwi, cantaloupe, cauliflower, red cabbage, mangos, white potato (with skin) and mustard greens.

  • Selenium: Low levels of the mineral selenium are related to osteoarthritis severity, and possibly to rheumatoid arthritis. In a study of more than 900 people, those who had low levels of selenium were more likely to have osteoarthritis of the knee. People who ate very few selenium-rich foods were nearly twice as likely to have severe arthritis compared with those who ate a selenium-rich diet.  Some of the best foods for selenium: Brazil nuts, tuna (to avoid mercury, buy canned light tuna), crab, oysters, tilapia, pasta (whole-wheat), lean beef, cod, shrimp, whole grains, turkey and wheat germ.

  • Carotenes: The carotenoids are a group of powerful antioxidant nutrients found in many fruits and vegetables. The best known is beta carotene, but there are many others. When it comes to arthritis, the carotenoid called beta-cryptoxanthin may reduce the risk of developing inflammation-related disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers from the United Kingdom found that people who ate diets high in beta-cryptoxanthin were half as likely to develop a form of inflammatory arthritis as those who ate very few beta-cryptoxanthin foods. They found that adding just one additional serving each day of a food high in beta-cryptoxanthin helped reduce arthritis risk.Some of the best foods for beta carotene include: sweet potato, carrots, kale, butternut squash, turnip greens, pumpkin, mustard greens, cantaloupe, sweet red pepper, apricots and spinach. Some of the best foods for beta cryptoxanthin include: winter squash, pumpkin, persimmons, papaya, tangerines, red peppers, corn, oranges and apricots.

  • Bioflavonoids — quercetin and anthocyanidins:  The bioflavonoids quercetin and anthocyanidins are both forms of antioxidants. The anti-inflammatory effects of quercetin may seem to be similar to those of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (such as aspirin and ibuprofen). For example, the synovial fluid in joints of people with rheumatoid arthritis contain highly inflammatory chemicals called tumor necrosis factor (TNF). In research, quercetin was able to limit the inflammatory effects of TNF. Some of the best foods for quercetin: onions (red, yellow, white), kale, leeks, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, blueberries, black currants, elderberries, lingonberries, cocoa powder, apricots and apples with skin.

  • Anthocyanidins and proanthocyanidins are powerful antioxidants known to reduce inflammation. They seem to inhibit production of certain inflammatory chemicals, including cytokines and prostaglandins. They contribute to the health of connective tissue, and are more powerful than vitamin C for defusing dangerous free radicals that can irritate body tissues and cause inflammation. Some of the best foods for anthocyanidins: blackberries, black currants, blueberries, eggplant, elderberries, raspberries, cherries, boysenberries, red/black grapes, strawberries and plums.

  • Spices—ginger and turmeric. Most people don’t realize that spices are a part of nutrition. Like fruits and vegetables, spices come from plant sources, and they can have powerful effects on health. Certain spices seem to have anti-inflammatory effects, and therefore should be considered for arthritis treatment. Among the most promising are ginger and turmeric. Ginger contains chemicals that work similarly to some anti-inflammatory medications, so its effects on arthritis pain are not surprising. However, ginger can also act as a blood thinner, so anyone taking a blood-thinning medication should collaborate with their personal physician when adding foods and beverages seasoned with ginger. To incorporate more ginger into your diet, grate fresh ginger into stir-fries, enjoy ginger tea and bake low-fat ginger muffins. Turmeric, sometimes called curcumin, is a mustard-yellow spice from Asia. It is the main ingredient in yellow curry. Scientific studies have shown that turmeric may help arthritis by suppressing inflammatory body chemicals. Enjoy chicken curry and healthy recipes that call for this anti-inflammatory seasoning.

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