10 Foods That Help Prevent and Control Arthritis

To prevent and control arthritis, your diet should be rich in foods that have the following activities:

  • Foods that reduce inflammation (omega-3 rich foods)
  • Foods that have potent antioxidant properties
  • Foods that modulate immune activity
  • Foods that balance the gut microbiome

Below are the 10 power foods that can prevent and treat arthritis naturally:

1. Horse gram

Horse gram is rich in polyphenols, flavonoids, and acts as an anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant. Studies show that horse gram significantly increases the activity of antioxidant enzymes such as catalase, superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase, in the liver and heart. 

Horse gram decreases inflammation by increasing the levels of anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 in the body. Because of the potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities, horse gram can reverse arthritis. Additionally, it helps reduce body weight. Weight loss may help improve arthritis symptoms by reducing the excess load on your joints that cause pain and discomfort.

2. Turmeric

The main active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin. It is curcumin that gives turmeric a bright yellow colour. It produces potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Typical medicines that are prescribed in arthritis are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

These drugs work by inhibiting the activity of cyclooxygenase enzymes, COX-1, and COX-2. COX-1 is the good COX, while COX-2 is potentially troublesome. COX-1 synthesizes prostaglandins that help in maintaining the health of the stomach and intestine, while COX-2 synthesizes the inflammatory prostaglandins and oxygen-free radicals that enhance inflammation. 

These NSAIDs inhibit the COX-2 enzyme, but simultaneously they inhibit the good COX-1 too. Therefore, they may increase the risk of serious bowel and stomach side effects like ulcers and bleeding. 

Studies suggest curcumin has the chemical properties of a COX inhibitor and has no side effects like NSAIDs. Turmeric may help alleviate or prevent symptoms of arthritis. Turmeric is very effective in preventing arthritis.

Boil one glass of milk and add one tablespoon of turmeric powder to it. Drink it at night just before bed while it’s still hot. In winter, eat plenty of fresh turmeric roots. They are more effective and beneficial than turmeric powder.

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3. Ginger

Ginger has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It increases the activities of antioxidant enzymes in the liver. Ginger contains phenolic compounds such as gingerol and shogaols as active components that protect body tissues against oxidative stress. 

Ginger also suppresses the synthesis of pro-inflammatory cytokines by suppressing NF-κB protein. It has been proven that ginger functions as a COX-2 inhibitor, just like NSAIDs, in controlling rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and other types of arthritis. The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger help relieve pain and improve conditions in all types of arthritis.

4. Walnuts

Walnuts have excellent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. Phenolic content of walnut, especially in its skin, exhibits the highest ant-oxidative capacity. Walnuts are high in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)

They have the highest omega-3 content in comparison to other tree nuts. Omega-3 fats have anti-inflammatory effects that reduce inflammation. Elevated C-reactive protein (CRP) levels in the body indicate inflammatory conditions like RA. 

Studies show walnuts lower C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation linked to arthritis.

Take a handful of walnut kernels or two whole walnuts, soak them in water overnight. Eat them on an empty stomach the next morning. Soaking is an important step, especially in the summer season, because walnuts are warm in nature. Walnuts can produce heat in the body and can cause mouth ulcers if you consume them without soaking.

5. Extra virgin olive oil

Extra virgin olive oil is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fats work as an anti-inflammatory and help reduce pain and swelling in arthritic joints.

Alongside Omega-3 fatty acids, olive oil also contains oleocanthal, a natural compound that has scientifically proven to produce similar pain-relieving results as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). 

Oleocanthal works in a similar way to NSAIDs by inhibiting the same enzyme responsible for inflammation and pain. Additionally, phenolic compounds present in extra virgin olive oil reduce cartilage degradation, bone erosion, and joint edema.

Also, a recent study suggests applying topical extra virgin olive oil is effective in controlling the inflammatory pain of joints in rheumatoid arthritis.

Among all types of olive oils, extra virgin olive oil exhibits maximum health benefits, because it is the least processed or refined type. It contains maximum phenolic antioxidants and oleocanthal content.

6. Licorice root

Licorice decreases the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Glycyrrhizin is the component in licorice, which exhibits an anti-inflammatory effect by mimicking the actions of steroids in the body. 

Furthermore, licorice prevents oxidative damage. Licorice increases the availability of cortisol in the body by preventing the body from using up its stores of cortisol; it reduces the conversion of cortisol to inactive cortisone. 

Cortisol can help reduce inflammation, also, suppresses the immune system, easing the pain and occurrence of arthritis. Be aware that licorice can cause anxiety and high blood pressure. If you are on medication for blood pressure, diabetes or diuretics, don’t use licorice, it may interfere with the drug’s efficacy. 

Consult your doctor before taking licorice. Women who are pregnant are not advised to take licorice root in any form. Licorice should be taken under medical advice. Roasting licorice roots increase their anti-inflammatory activity. 

Research shows roasted licorice may inhibit acute inflammation more potently. The best way to take licorice root is to roast it, crush it and boil up the root in order to make herbal tea.

7. Flax seeds

Flax seeds are also known as linseeds. Flax seeds and flaxseed oil are rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid that helps decrease inflammation and joint pain in arthritis. 

Phytochemicals called lignans found in flaxseed oil to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that help reduce the risk of arthritis. Flax seeds are also rich in fibre that helps to ease bowel movement combating constipation and keeping the digestive system healthy.

Use dry roasted and ground flax seeds instead of the whole to help your body get the most nutrients from flax seeds for rheumatoid arthritis. This step is necessary to increase their absorption. Whole flax seeds are not easily digestible as their outer shell is hard for the intestines to break down, eating ground flax seeds increases the absorption of the nutrients. 

Whole flax seeds are chemically stable, but ground flax seeds may go rancid when left exposed to air at room temperature for a longer period, because of oxidation. The best way is to roast and grind them just before use, to prevent oxidation and increase absorption.

8. Spinach

Vitamin K is a crucial nutrient for joint health. Your body needs vitamin K for healthy bone growth and repair. Lack of vitamin K in the body can increase the risk of osteoarthritis. Spinach is rich in vitamin K, which can help with inflammation caused by arthritis. Spinach is high in bone-preserving calcium.

Free radical compounds can destroy healthy cells in the body, and antioxidants destroy those free radicals. Spinach is an excellent source of fibre and antioxidants like vitamins A, C, and E, which protect cells from free radical damage and help reduce inflammation.

Spinach is especially high in the antioxidant kaempferol, an important phytochemicals that can bring down the levels of the inflammatory cytokine.

Kaempferol inhibits several enzymes that induce oxidative stress that cause rheumatoid arthritis. Study shows kaempferol reduces inflammation and prevents the progression of osteoarthritis. Start adding spinach to your diet to prevent or control arthritis. 

Avoid eating raw spinach, instead, sauté or blanch them before use. Cooking spinach increases its nutritional value. Also, add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice while blanching. Eating spinach with vitamin C boosts your iron absorption, which exhibits other health benefits.

9. Prebiotic

It is well known that a high-fat diet doubles the body fat percentage and causes obesity. Osteoarthritis in obese people is assumed to be a consequence of undue stress on joints. Research has found that obese people have more pro-inflammatory bacteria and almost completely lacked certain beneficial, probiotic bacteria in their guts compared to lean people. 

This causes inflammation throughout their body, leading to very rapid joint deterioration. These proinflammatory bacteria in the gut, which are governed by diet – could be the key driving force behind osteoarthritis. 

A high-fat diet influences the gut bacteria negatively, allowing harmful bacteria to overgrow. Compared to lean people, osteoarthritis progresses much more quickly in obese people.

Prebiotics are plant fibres. These fibres aren’t digestible by humans, so they pass through the digestive system, where they act as fertilizers. They become food for the bacteria and other microbes in the gut and stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria, like Bifidobacteria. 

The regular consumption of prebiotic foods increases the good bacteria in the gut and crowds out bad ones, like pro-inflammatory bacteria. This, in turn, decreases systemic inflammation and slows cartilage breakdown. While prebiotic foods don’t reduce obesity, it completely reverses the other symptoms related to arthritis, making the joints more movable.

Some examples of prebiotics are banana, apple (don’t remove the skin as the skin contains most prebiotic benefits), onion, garlic, oats, asparagus, and yams.

10. Water

Dehydration can make symptoms of arthritis worse. Your joints need fluids to move smoothly. If you are dehydrated, it affects your joints mobility too. Lack of hydration produces friction between the contact point of the joint. 

Over time, dry cartilage may die and peel from the contact surface of the bones. Drinking more water can improve your arthritis condition for several reasons: water helps to fight inflammation by flushing toxins out of the body. When the joints move, they pull water from the bone marrow to the joint cavity and provide lubrication. 

If there is not enough water, the joints can’t move as they should. Also, water can stimulate the production of synovial fluid that lubricates and cushions the joints and cartilage surrounding them. 

This keeps the bones from rubbing together, reduces inflammation around the joint, and encourages the growth of new cells in the cartilage tissues. So, increase your water intake to reduce the pain associated with arthritis. For proper lubrication and to control painful symptoms, it is important to drink between two to three litres of water every day, which equals 8 to 12 glasses of water.

Conclusion

Arthritis is no longer a disease of old age. People, even in their late 30s, have started seeing the symptoms of arthritis. The reasons are unhealthy foods that promote inflammation in the body, lack of sunlight exposure, and a diet deficient in anti-inflammatory foods. 

People who have arthritis can effectively reduce symptoms and inflammation associated with arthritis with the foods mentioned above. These foods can slow down the progression of arthritis and help your body to heal itself. 

Even if you are a healthy person, you should avoid inflammation-causing foods and include natural anti-inflammatory foods to prevent arthritis. Anti-inflammatory foods also decrease the risk of autoimmune disorders, diabetes, obesity, cancer, and other diseases.

Key Points

  • Pain and inflammation are more prominent in the wet season.
  • Avoid sour food.
  • Limit your nightshade vegetables.
  • Eat more omega-3 rich food.
  • It is important to empty the bowel frequently. Constipation aggravates arthritis, pain, and inflammation.
  • Avoid the cold breeze.
  • Take a hot shower every day. It reduces stiffness by stimulating blood flow to frozen joints and stiff muscles.
  • Add antioxidant spices to your diet.

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