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Foods for Arthritis

Sue Gilbert

Reviewed By:
Vikas Garg, M.D., MSA

Question :

Are there any foods that have arthritis- or inflammation-fighting properties? I am 51 with severe joint pain in my hands and do not want to take cortisone shots. I have been using glucosamine chondroitin for 60 days along with acetaminophen, which seems to work better than ibuprofen for me.

I take a supplement that has betacarotene, bilerry, vitamin E, ascorbic acid, pine bark, ginkgo biloba, green tea, turmeric, zinc, yeast-free selenium, garlic, echinacea and goldenseal. This has controlled my severe sinus for the first time in my life.

Any foods that would add healthful anti-inflammatory benefits would be helpful.

Answer :

Because you are suffering from inflammation, I am assuming that you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Osteoarthritis, the more common form, is not characterized by inflammation around the joints as RA is, but rather is due to wear and tear on the joints due to degeneration or injury.

Although evidence is not strong enough for many doctors to support the use of nutrition in the treatment of arthritis, there are some studies that show foods may help, or irritate it.

In some folks, RA may actually be an allergic reaction to certain foods. This form of arthritis may in fact be a different disease altogether than RA and is referred to as "allergic arthritis." Perhaps you may want to eliminate to possibility of a food allergy being the cause of your problem.

Some foods may be worth giving up, even without an allergy. Meat contains a type of fat that stimulates the production of inflammatory agents in your body. Adopting a vegetarian diet may help. Patients with RA put on a vegetarian diet showed improvement within a month. A vegan diet may be the most helpful. For some people, giving up dairy products was helpful.

The exception to the vegan/vegetarian route, is to include oily fish, particularly salmon, sardines, mackerel or other fish rich in omeg-3 fatty acids. According to Jean Carper in Food: Your Miracle Medicine, marine oils act directly on the immune system, suppressing 40 to 55 percent of the release of compounds called cytokines that help destroy joints. Fish oil capsules may also help. However, eating fish purchased from a trustworthy market will better guarantee the purity of the oil you are getting.

Simultaneously, keep your intake of omega-6 fatty acids low since they may counter the effects of the fish oils. Do this by avoiding polyunsaturated fats such as safflower and sunflower oils and margarines made from them. Stick to olive oil and other monounsaturates.

Ginger is an anti-inflammatory agent. Try including fresh ginger in vegetable stir-fries, eating food containing ground ginger or dissolving ground ginger in your herb tea.

In summary, eliminate the possibility of a food allergy, avoid meat (better yet, go vegetarian/vegan), get plenty of fish oils and include ginger in your diet.

Hopefully these suggestions will give you some relief.



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