Is There an Arthritis Diet?
One of the most common questions people with any form of arthritis have is, "Is there an arthritis diet?" Or more to the point, "What can I eat to help my joints?" The answer is that many foods can help. Following a diet low in processed foods and saturated fat and rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts and beans is great for your body. If this advice looks familiar, it's because these are the principles of the Mediterranean diet, which is frequently touted for its anti-aging, disease-fighting powers.
There's good science behind the hype. Studies confirm eating these foods lowers blood pressure and protects against chronic conditions ranging from cancer to stroke. It helps arthritis by curbing inflammation, which benefits your joints as well as your heart. Another bonus is eating healthy whole foods commonly found in Mediterranean cuisine can also lead to weight loss, which makes a huge difference in managing joint pain.
Whether you call it a Mediterranean diet, an anti-inflammatory diet or simply an arthritis diet, here's a look at the key foods, and a breakdown of why they're so good for joint health.
How much: Health authorities like the American Heart Association and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommend three to four ounces of fish, twice a week. Arthritis experts claim more is better.
Why: Some types of fish are good sources of inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids. A study of 727 postmenopausal women, published in the Journal of Nutrition, found those who had the highest consumption of omega-3s had lower levels of two inflammatory proteins: C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6.
Nuts and Seeds
How much: Eat 1.5 ounces of nuts daily (one ounce is about one handful).
Why: Multiple studies confirm the role of nuts in an anti-inflammatory diet. A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that over a 15-year period, men and women who consumed the most nuts had a 51 percent lower risk of dying from an inflammatory disease compared with those who ate the fewest nuts.
Fruits and Veggies
How much: Aim for nine or more servings daily.
Why: Fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants. These potent chemicals act as the body's natural defense system, helping to neutralize unstable molecules called free radicals that can damage cells.
How much: Two to three tablespoons daily
Why: Olive oil is made up largely of healthful, monounsaturated fat. It's anti-inflammatory, heart-healthy and it's tasty, too. But having the right type of fat isn't the oil's only value. In fact, experts claim at least half of its health benefits come from the olives, not the oil.
How much: About one cup, twice a week.
Why: Beans are loaded with fiber, a nutrient that helps lower CRP, an indicator of inflammation found in the blood. At high levels, CRP could indicate anything from an infection to Rheumatoid Arthritis.