Ms Kriti Goel is a clinical nutritionist, bariatric nutritionist and international patients diet counsellor at Apollo Spectra Hospitals, Karol Bagh (Delhi). Ms Kriti specializes in adopting a holistic approach to nutrition, weight and health management. She has vast knowledge in many clinical areas such as diabetes, high cholesterol, stones during pregnancy and lactation, post-pregnancy weight loss, weaning food for infants, Parkinson’s, liver shrinkage, CVD, diet for over and underweight kids, etc. Here, she shares a few tips on how arthritis patients can monitor and control their diet to reduce joint pain and inflammation.
Nutrition plays an important role in maintaining good health, proper body functioning and in fighting diseases like arthritis. Good nutrition increases the quality and duration of a healthy life and protects our body from illnesses or health problems. Natural food, with the right amount of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals is vital to maintaining good health. The food we eat makes up the powerhouse of nutrients for our growth, development and overall health. This is especially applicable for patients suffering from arthritis as the knee health can be improved with the right diet and the right time.
The importance of diet in preventing Arthritis
The word arthritis refers to inflammation in the joints, causing pain and discomfort. It is not only directed at the joint but may also attack any part of the body such as bones, ligaments, muscles, tendons and some internal organs. There are many different causes of arthritis like trauma, previous injury, genetic factors, poor nutrition, and obesity among other factors. Although over-the-counter and prescription medication can help in easing arthritis pain and inflammation; avoiding foods that trigger arthritis symptoms can also help in reducing the pain it causes.
It is important to eat a well-balanced diet and avoid foods that may aggravate your condition. But of course, it is better to consult your doctor or dietician when trying to modify your diet and engage in a natural diet for arthritis pain relief.
Foods for improving joint health
The food you eat gives the body all its nutrients- especially your joints. If you do not eat a full, antioxidant-rich diet, your body will not be able to reduce the inflammation occurring in your joints. The main ingredient that helps in easing the pain in arthritis patients is glucosamine. Glucosamine is a natural supplement for arthritis patients that not only relieves arthritis symptoms but also maintains joint health. Moreover, when it comes to rebuilding cartilage, glucosamine is highly effective with some assistance from Chondroitin, MSM, and Omega-3s.
Some of the foods that help in easing this inflammation are listed below:
- Garlic and Onion
They contain diallyl disulfide, an anti-inflammatory compound that limits joint inflammation. All these foods can help in fighting pain, inflammation and cartilage damage that occurs due to arthritis.
Rich in the inflammation-fighting antioxidant, curcumin, this may help in easing joint pain & swelling by blocking the effect of inflammatory enzymes & the chemical pain messengers.
Ginger can also relieve arthritis pain. You can use ginger as a spice and add it to your food. You can also make ginger tea or a ginger compress to help soothe your arthritis pain.
- Red Pepper
Capsaicin is a natural ingredient found in red pepper. This dandy chemical helps in blocking pain receptors. Red pepper is also an excellent source of Vitamin C and contains salicylates which act much like an aspirin does on your body. Applying some capsaicin cream to the aching joints also can also relieve pain.
- Others Foods
Foods that contain sulfur compound help in fighting inflammation and pain. Apples contain quercetin, which helps in building collagen which is the main component of cartilage. Apart from these, some common foods that you can include in your diet are almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, chia, dark green leafy vegetables, basil, raw apple cider vinegar, cherries, beans, fish, pineapple, papaya, extra virgin olive oil, green tea, and broccoli, to name a few.
What foods make arthritis worse?
- Inflammatory foods
- Fried & processed foods
- Sugars & refined carbs
- Full cream dairy products
- Alcohol & tobacco
- Salt & preservatives
Those with a low amount of vitamin D in their diet are also at a risk of knee arthritis. Fatty fish- such as salmon and tuna are good sources of this vitamin. You can also include vitamin D in your diet through fortified milk, yogurt, orange juice and cereal.
Foods that help rebuild cartilage
For optimal joint function, it is important to beat inflammation wherever possible—inflammation is the primary source of collagen and by extension, cartilage breakdown. For rebuilding cartilage, include these in your diet:
- Green tea
- Brown rice
As observed by a licensed dietician from Texas, the goal of active participation in your osteoarthritis disease treatment should be to reduce pain and inflammation and increase movement and function without dependence on medication. This may be achieved through weight loss and natural supplements. If you have arthritis, managing your diet and participating in a good exercise program, in addition to taking medicines when necessary, can make a big difference in reducing arthritis pain. If you are taking medications that can cause constipation, be sure to drink enough fluids and get plenty of fiber through your diet. You might also consider adding a few supplements to your diet that can help reduce inflammation. Taking control of what you eat is a great way to play an active part in your arthritis treatment.