7 Drinks To Help With Arthritis
Whilst there is no cure for arthritis, adopting a healthy, balanced lifestyle can be really beneficial in helping to improve quality of life and manage your pain. Nutrition is really important, but sometimes you don’t want to think about complicated recipes. That’s why we’ve rounded up this list of 7 drinks which may include properties that can help with arthritis.
“No diet can ‘cure’ arthritis, and there are no particular diets or specific drinks that will make arthritis better or worse,” says Martin Lau, Arthritis Action’s Services Development Manager & Dietitian. “Instead, the aim should primarily be to strive for a normal body weight if carrying more than you should, and eating a well-balanced, varied diet. You should also try to reduce ultra-processed drinks and sugary drinks. These are calorie dense and nutrient poor, and can promote inflammation.”
Please note that everyone is different and while some studies might show adding something to your diet might help joint pain others might find the opposite. The key is to find what works for you.
It’s so important to stay hydrated and drink enough water throughout the day. Over half of our body is made up of water, and staying hydrated can help maintain your energy levels, remove toxins and waste, and regulate your body temperature. “I would always recommend drinking plenty of water, as dehydration can increase sensitivity to pain,” says Martin Lau.
Water is also a necessary component of synovial fluid, which helps your joints move smoothly. If your synovial fluid levels are low, it can lead to joint damage and inflammation - which can make arthritis symptoms worse. The movement of water through tissues also helps transport nutrients between cells, including cartilage tissue, which helps cushion the joints. Dehydration also increases inflammation, so staying hydrated can decrease inflammation which also affects how well your joints are working.
Finally, water can also help maintain your weight as it supports digestive health, flushes out waste, and can help you feel full for longer so you consume fewer calories. Basically, water is super important and you should be drinking plenty of it throughout the day.
Warming, tasty and nutritious: what more could you want?! Green, black and white teas are all rich in polyphenols, which are anti-inflammatory plant based compounds. Green tea is typically hailed as the best kind of tea to drink, because it contains Epigallocatechin 3-gallate, a polyphenol with antioxidant properties which are 100 times stronger than vitamins C and E. Epigallocatechin 3-gallate may also help preserve cartilage and bone, although there isn’t much proof of this. There are also herbal teas with anti-inflammatory and other beneficial properties which you may want to try, like tulsi (holy basil), turmeric, ginger, rose hip, and fennel.
Milk is rich in potassium, vitamin D, calcium, protein, vitamin B12, vitamin A, zinc, and thiamine, all of which are essential for a healthy diet. That being said, there are conflicting studies about whether cow milk is beneficial for your health. One study found that women who consumed milk had lower progression of osteoarthritis, although it did not find the same results in men. High fat milk products are known to raise cholesterol, which can increase the risk of heart problems and stroke. Sticking to skimmed or lower fat milk products may be advisable, especially if you want to lose weight. If you are lactose intolerant and/or following a vegan lifestyle, there are milk alternatives such as soy and oat which also often contain important components including calcium, vitamins B, D and sometimes B12.
Fruit and vegetables contain important vitamins, antioxidants and other properties which can be beneficial to your overall health and well being. That being said, it’s important to watch how much fruit you are consuming. Fruit contains sugar, and too much sugar can spike your blood pressure, cause weight gain and could potentially make your arthritis symptoms worse. A way around this is to have blended juices or smoothies which contain vegetables as well as fruits, as these are often lower in sugar and still contain plenty of nutrients.
“Fruit and vegetables, including drinks and smoothies made from real fruit, contain high levels of vitamins and antioxidants which are essential for staying in good health, not to mention the high fibre content which is helpful for our gut bacteria,” says Martin Lau.
Smoothies can be an excellent and delicious way of adding extra nutrients to your diet, and can help you sneak in a few extra vegetables that you wouldn’t normally eat! With juices, you can also add things like turmeric, ginger, and matcha to your smoothie, all of which have anti-inflammatory properties. Looking for a recipe? Take a look at our pineapple and turmeric smoothie!
When it comes to coffee and whether it’s helpful for arthritis, the evidence is a little patchy. Coffee contains compounds such as caffeine (unless it’s decaf), chlorogenic acid (CGA), cafestol, trigonelline, and kahweol. These compounds are thought to have antioxidant and, perhaps surprisingly, anti-inflammatory properties, which can lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes and even some cancers. One study found that regular coffee drinkers had lower levels of inflammatory markers than non coffee drinkers. There is some evidence, however, to suggest that drinking coffee can increase inflammation in some individuals, and so it seems that it can have different effects on different people.
Other research suggests coffee is a good source of antioxidant polyphenols, which can help the body fight free radicals (unstable atoms that can damage the body's cells and promote things like ageing). It seems that these benefits may be from the other compounds found in coffee rather than the caffeine itself, so decaf coffee may be just as beneficial in this area. As coffee appears to lower inflammation in some people but not in others, it’s a good idea to pay attention to your body. If you are a regular, moderate coffee drinker and you feel it benefits you, then great - but there are plenty of other options if you feel that coffee isn’t helpful for you.
7. Red Wine
Saying that an alcoholic drink can ‘help’ with anything health related should be taken with more than a pinch of salt. It’s true that red wine contains the compound resveratrol, which has well known anti-inflammatory properties. A 2018 study in Iraq found that resveratrol was beneficial for people with osteoarthritis, and that it may help slow or prevent the breakdown of cartilage, which is the tissue that covers and cushions joints.
Another study in 2016 found that whilst beer appeared to be a risk factor for arthritis of the knee and hip, consuming wine was associated with a decreased likelihood of osteoarthritis in the knee. Whilst this seems promising, alcohol also comes with a variety of health risks, particularly when consumed regularly and in moderate to high quantities, and these risks may well outweigh the benefits. If you don’t already drink, we do not recommend adding red wine to your diet. However, if you do enjoy the occasional tipple then red wine may be a healthier choice for you.
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