Joe is a retired professional athlete. He now works at a bank and just turned 50. The guys at the office took him out to lunch to celebrate.
“How does 50 feel, man?” they asked. Without hesitation, Joe responded, “Lousy!”
He proceeds to tell them how arthritis ruined his athletic career and how much pain he suffers on a daily basis because of the disease. He feels like he’s doomed to suffer for the rest of his life. The meds prescribed by his doctor certainly aren’t working. They only provide temporary relief. And the exercises given by his PT just make his joints hurt more.
“I don’t know what else to do,” Joe tells his co-workers as he takes a huge bite out of his salami and melted cheese sub and shoves a handful of cheese fries in his mouth.
Obviously, there’s more he can do. Cutting back on foods that are high in fat and salt is one.
There are many Joes out there who probably aren’t aware that there are foods that help and foods that hurt.
Here are a few foods Joe, and others like him, should consider eating to improve their joint health and alleviate pain caused by arthritis.
Fatty Fish. Fish like salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel contain omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation-causing proteins C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6. Another benefit of omega-3 fatty acids, according to the Arthritis Foundation, are their ability to project joints from cartilage breakdown.
Dietary Recommendation: Eat between 3 to 6 ounces of fish at least four times a week
Spinach. Your mother may have told you, “Eat your spinach. It will grow hair on your chest.” The person who made up that old wives’ tale certainly had a sense of humor. Still, spinach is good for you. It contains nutrients and antioxidants, like kaempferol, that reduce inflammation and fight disease. It’s even been shown to slow the progression of osteoarthritis.
Dietary Recommendation: Have at least one serving (1 cup) of spinach per day, raw or cooked.
Turmeric spice. Turmeric is commonly used in many ethnic recipes, including sauces and soups. Multiple studies have shown the positive effects of Turmeric, including reduction of joint pain and other symptoms relating to arthritis. Combined with some oil, Turmeric can also be added to vegetables and meat, or it can be taken as an advanced joint support supplement like Flexify.
Dietary Recommendation: Use as needed. Start with ½ tsp when adding to foods.
Walnuts. Besides fish, walnuts are another food that contains omega-3 fatty acids. One study found that those who consumed foods or supplements with omega-3 fatty acids experienced less joint pain and were even able to reduce the intake of their arthritis medication.
Dietary Recommendation: 1 to 2 walnuts per day.
Broccoli. This superfood that has been shown to reduce arthritis symptoms. In a study by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 1,005 women consuming broccoli experienced decreased levels of inflammation. Broccoli also releases sulforaphane, an anticarcinogen and antibacterial compound that blocks enzymes known to cause joint decay.
Dietary Recommendation: At least one cup fresh or cooked broccoli per day.
Wrapping It Up
Joint pain is not fun, and it’s not easy to live with day after day. Luckily, there’s a lot you can do to ease your discomfort. Let’s start with your diet. Try incorporating more of these five foods for a couple of weeks and see how you feel.