Foods to Eat and Avoid to Decrease Arthritis Pain

Foods to Eat and Avoid to Decrease Arthritis Pain


Arthritis is a medical term physicians use to describe over 200 health conditions that cause pain and inflammation in the joints and the tissues around them. More surprising to many is that the foods we eat can impact the condition.

The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis. According to a study published by, it affects the lives of more than 30 million Americans. Osteoarthritis can cause pain and stiffness in any joint. However, it usually occurs in the feet, knees, hips, lower back, neck, or fingers.

Along with prescription and over-the-counter medication, tweaking your diet can help ease painful osteoarthritis symptoms. Also, the same advice applies to other forms of this degenerative joint disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis.


Today we’ll detail some of the foods that can help ease pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis. First, let’s take a moment to familiarize ourselves with how the disease impacts the joints.

Osteoarthritis is the result of overuse. Thus, joints that people use frequently are the ones most likely to feel the impact of the condition. The most common occurrences arise in the following joints:

  • Feet
  • Knees
  • Hips
  • Lower back
  • Neck
  • Fingers

Osteoarthritis destroys the cartilage that normally cushions the bones in the joints in the body. This damage leads to bone-on-bone contact. The longer these bones rub against one another, the more damage they do to the muscles and connective tissues in the joints. Moreover, this series of events leads to severe stiffness, inflammation, and pain commonly associated with osteoarthritis.


Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disorder with an unknown etiology, osteoarthritis is far better understood. According to most physicians, scientists, and researchers, the following factors can significantly increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis:

Age – According to a study published by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), doctor-diagnosed arthritis, which includes osteoarthritis, is highest among individuals who are age 65 and over.

Gender – While there is no scientific data that clearly explains why there is a disparity, multiple studies have found that women are more likely than men to develop osteoarthritis.

Obesity– Not surprisingly, being overweight or obese can place a tremendous amount of strain on weight-bearing joints, causing them to become worn that much faster. That said, the more you weigh, the more likely you are to develop osteoarthritis that affects the knees, hips, and feet.

Genetics – For 35 to 65 percent of the U.S. population, osteoarthritis is caused by 1 of 9 genes that are associated with the disease, according to a study published by ScienceDaily, an online resource that provides information related to science, health, the environment, and technology.

It is also worth noting that joint injuries can cause osteoarthritis as well. To help substantiate this claim, we need only look to a study published by the National Institute of Health. The study revealed that 80 percent of American professional football players with a history of knee injuries showed signs of osteoarthritis. That said, it is entirely possible to develop osteoarthritis even at a young age.


Now that we have a better understanding of arthritis and who is most at risk for developing the condition, let’s take a moment to go over some of the foods that can help ease or possibly prevent arthritis pain:


If you’re a fan of fish, you will be happy to know that adding sardines, salmon, mackerel, and other fatty fish to your diet can go a long way toward easing and possibly preventing arthritis pain. These fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are polyunsaturated fats with anti-inflammatory properties that can help alleviate the pain, stiffness, and inflammation synonymous with osteoarthritis. Further, these healthy fats have been shown to minimize the degradation of cartilage in the joints, which may reduce the chances of developing the disease in the first place. Along with fatty fish, flaxseed oil and certain nuts, such as almonds, macadamia nuts, and walnuts, are also excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids as well.


Adding more non-fat dairy foods like milk, cheese, and yogurt to your diet is yet another great way to combat the pain, inflammation, and stiffness associated with arthritis. Collectively, the protein, calcium, and vitamin D in these foods can help strengthen bones. And, it helps your body to build long, lean muscles to ease and potentially prevent arthritis pain. Also, opting for the non-fat variant can go a long way toward helping you maintain a healthy weight.

3 – OILS

Along with fatty fish and non-fat dairy, using extra virgin olive oil in place of vegetable or corn oil is also a great way to ease many of the symptoms synonymous with osteoarthritis. There is even evidence suggesting that this dietary change may also help to prevent the disease. Extra virgin olive oil contains oleocanthal, a natural phenolic compound that has many of the same properties found in popular over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, including ibuprofen. Also, according to the National Institute of Health, this same compound may offer protection against Alzheimer’s disease as well as certain cancers.


Dark leafy greens like spinach, collard greens, and kale can strengthen the immune system as they are rich in vitamin D and antioxidants, both of which help ease osteoarthritis symptoms while making you less prone to illnesses and infections. It may also be a good idea to sprinkle a little bit of garlic over your vegetables as well. According to an article published by Medical News Today, garlic contains diallyl disulfide, a compound that has been shown to help combat the enzymes in the body that would otherwise target and destroy cartilage.


While not technically a food per se, green tea contains polyphenols, plant-based compounds that offer various health benefits, as well as antioxidants that can fight off free radicals in the body. These ingredients have been shown to minimize the breakdown of cartilage and also relieve painful inflammation.


While many of the foods listed in this article have been proven to help prevent arthritis; they may not be as effective in lowering the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis as it is an autoimmune disorder, meaning it is not a byproduct of normal wear and tear of cartilage as in the case of osteoarthritis. Nonetheless, these foods can help ease pain, stiffness, and inflammation brought on by this form of arthritis as well.


Along with the food that can help ease and possibly prevent osteoarthritis, there are some that you will want to avoid as they can trigger or intensify arthritis pain:


Granulated sugar triggers the release of cytokines, small proteins that play a critical role in cell signaling in the body. Thus, food and drinks that contain a lot of granulated sugar may prove to intensify inflammation.

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