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February 2017

Eating to Ease Arthritis Pain

Arthritis is marked by inflammation in one or more joints, resulting in stiffness and joint pain.  While there are several types of arthritis, the most common are rheumatoid (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA).  In RA the membrane that protects joints becomes inflamed, while with OA it is the wearing away of cartilage.  Aging may contribute to arthritis due to stress on the joints or with elevated levels of inflammation in the body.  Some experts believe that diet may help ease arthritis pain.

Managing Arthritis
A well-balanced diet can help manage arthritis symptoms.  Although it may not delay the progression of arthritis for everyone, it can help people keep active and reduce dependence on medication. Making smart food choices keeps inflammation down and can counter arthritis pain.

Foods to Ease Arthritis Pain and Reduce Inflammation

  • Avoid Highly Processed Foods: Have fresh whole foods more often.  Minimize processed foods.  Check the ingredients - the fewer items the better.
  • Eat your Fruits & Vegetables: Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.  Choose a variety of colorful vegetables, including dark leafy greens. Have berries or cherries on a regular basis.  Produce is packed with antioxidants.
  • Smart Fat Choices & Omega-3’s: May slow progression of OA and decrease inflammation in RA. Switch from saturated fats to poly and monounsaturated fats. Substitute saturated fats (butter, palm oil, stick margarine, baked goods, fatty and processed meats) for unsaturated. Choose olive and canola oils, avocados and nuts in moderation. Have fish more often; especially fatty fish such as salmon, sardines and herring which are excellent sources of omega-3’s.
  • Choose Whole Grains: Substitute brown rice for white rice and try quinoa, barley and kasha.  At least half of your grains should be from whole grains.
  • Adequate Protein: Eat approximately 1 gm. protein per 2.2 pounds of body weight, especially if you have RA.  Include lean protein such as: chicken, turkey, fish, beans, eggs & reduced fat dairy products at each meal and snack.
  • Herbs and Spices: Use herbs and spices to season you meals: turmeric, ginger, oregano and curry powder.  They may reduce inflammation.
  • Adequate Vitamin D: Goal is 800 IU daily.  Get your D-level checked. If it is low you may require more.  Check with your physician if you need to supplement. There are few good food sources other than salmon, tuna, sardines and D-fortified products.
  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: Added weight can increase inflammation and joint pain.  Weight loss will reduce pressure on the joints.
  • Exercise Regularly: It may reduce stiffness and joint pain making it easier to move.  Check with your physician to see what activity is best for you.


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