7 Arthritis Superfoods To Add To Your Diet
You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘you are what you eat’, but how much truth is in it? While there isn’t one ‘super diet’ which can fix all your problems, the food you eat does have a big effect on your health and wellbeing.
Everyone needs to eat enough vitamins and minerals to keep their bodies working properly. People with arthritis may especially benefit from certain nutrients like Omega 3 fatty acids, Glucosamine and curcumin (which is found in the yellow spice Turmeric).
To find out what foods are particularly helpful for people with arthritis, we spoke to Benedetta Andreotti, Nutritionist and Food Technologist at Love Yourself Meals Ltd.
Why is it important to have a healthy diet?
There is no one universally superior diet and people can find the nutrients they need from a variety of omnivore, vegetarian and vegan sources. However, eating a balanced diet which includes the vitamins and minerals that you need for a healthy, functional body is really important.
“A healthy diet is essential for good health and nutrition,” says Benedetta. “Eating the right nutrients such as fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, olive oil and a moderate amount of dairy and red meat helps you to have a longer and better life. Moreover, a healthy diet protects us from developing non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease.
“A healthy and balanced diet should include at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day; a moderate amount of starchy foods such as potatoes, bread and rice; a moderate amount of dairy and protein sources like beans, fish, meat and eggs; and plenty of fluids (6 to 8 glasses of water a day).”
Why are certain foods good for arthritis?
“There are certain foods such as oily fish that contain omega-3 fatty acids and brightly coloured fruit and vegetables (e.g. oranges, pumpkin, papaya) that are rich in carotenoids, which have anti-inflammatory properties that help with arthritis,” says Benedetta.
Osteoarthritis causes inflammation in the joints and the gradual breakdown of joint cartilage (the tissue which covers the edge of bones where they form into joints and helps you move without friction between the bones). Some foods have anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce pain, whilst other foods may actually make inflammation worse.
“Anti-inflammatory foods - like those we can typically find in the Mediterranean and Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet - have been shown to reduce various measures of inflammation inside the body such as a substance called C-reactive protein. Therefore, they are good for treating arthritis. They fight inflammation, strengthen bones and boost the immune system,” Benedetta continues.
What are some key foods that you should eat if you have arthritis?
Nuts, Seeds & Soy
Fortified Milk With Vitamin D
Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fish is beneficial if you have arthritis. People with arthritis should consume fish at least twice a week, one of which is oily. Examples of oily fish that alleviate arthritis symptoms are mackerel, tuna, salmon and sardines.
Nuts, seeds and soy are rich in unsaturated fats and have high content of omega-3 fatty acids. If you don’t eat fish, seeds and nuts like flaxseeds, chia seeds, almonds, walnuts or soybeans are an optimal alternative.
Studies have shown that low blood levels of vitamin D are associated with an increased risk of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. This is because vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption which maintains strong bones. Therefore, vitamin D enriched foods such as fortified milk, eggs and dairy can help to prevent arthritis. However, keep in mind that vitamin D is mainly synthesised from sunlight.
Broccoli is rich in vitamins K and C, broccoli contains a compound called sulforaphane that helps prevent and slow the progression of osteoarthritis. Broccoli is also rich in calcium which has bone-building properties.
7 Superfoods That Can Help With arthritis
“Both the Mediterranean and DASH diets, which are based on the consumption of fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and limit added sugar, refined carbohydrates and salt, are beneficial for arthritis. They consist of anti-inflammatory foods that ease arthritis symptoms and improve overall joint health. We can also call them superfoods,” says Benedetta.
This fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D which have been found to reduce inflammation by inhibiting an enzyme called cyclooxygenase (COX) which sparks inflammation.
2. Olive Oil
Olive oil doesn’t contain omega-3 fatty acids, but it contains other unsaturated fats such as oleic acid which also display anti-inflammatory properties. Furthermore, olive oil contains a compound called oleocanthal which works similarly to ibuprofen in alleviating pain.
3. Green Tea
Packed with polyphenols which reduce inflammation and slow cartilage destruction. Studies also show that green tea contains an antioxidant compound called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) which blocks the production of molecules that cause joint damage in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
- Contain anthocyanins that help minimise oxidation and oxidative stress, the main trigger for inflammation. They decrease levels of C-reactive protein, an inflammatory protein associated with arthritis. Moreover, studies have shown that cherries help reduce the frequency of gout attacks in people suffering from this condition.
5. Green Leafy Vegetables
These are loaded with vitamin K, which is important to maintain the cartilage. Scientists believe that vitamin K helps with arthritis by preventing the cartilage from calcifying.
Part of the allium family, it has been shown to have protective properties against arthritis, due to its compound called diallyl disulphide that combats inflammatory cytokines.
This spice contains an anti-inflammatory compound called curcumin that blocks the action of inflammatory molecules like the cytokines, alleviating joint pain. However, arthritis pain relief requires much more curcumin than a person eats in a typical diet, so it is more effective to take as a supplement.Text
What foods should you avoid if you have arthritis?
Just like some foods can help with arthritis, others may make symptoms worse because they can increase inflammation. It’s also important to keep to a healthy weight when you have arthritis, because excess weight can put additional pressure on your joints. You don’t have to give up sweets, chocolate, crisps and other treats altogether, but they should be limited or replaced with a healthier alternative more often so you can enjoy a higher quality of life.
“You should avoid foods high in sugar, saturated fats and refined carbohydrates,” says Benedetta. “Processed sugar can prompt the release of some molecules called cytokines which cause inflammation, therefore aggravating arthritis symptoms. Foods containing high amounts of saturated fats, like red meat, can cause inflammation in the fat tissue. They also contribute to obesity, which increases the stress on the joints.
“Finally, refined carbohydrates - such as white bread and white rice - fuel the production of some substances called advanced glycation end (AGE) oxidants that promote inflammation. Moderate consumption of refined carbohydrates will not do any harm, but it is recommended to swap them for more complex carbohydrates such as millet, couscous and buckwheat.”
Do you have any superfoods that you think helps with your arthritis? Any food tips for our community? Let us know on Facebook!