It can be difficult to be as healthy as we’d like, one has to admit, especially these days. The world has only gotten more and more stressful and toxic, and while we do what we can to weather the storm it’s not always easy. We try to adapt to this through fortifying our bodies and systems with exercise, and that has many up-front and well-known benefits. However, many of us take for granted the things we stand to gain from simply being more intelligent about the food we consume, which can give our bodies the fuel necessary to protect themselves from pain and disease.
Consider ailments like arthritis – while medication does in theory give us a potent and convenient way to ease the pain of arthritis, there’s something to be said for how simply making basic adjustments to our diets can have a huge impact on the reduction of pain and the restoration of our bygone ease of movement and general well-being. Joint tends to flare up when cartilage in our joints breaks down, causing the bones in the joints to scrape against each other and cause friction. Other related issues are the thickening of synovial fluid in the joints, which causes similar issues. While inflammation is a natural bodily adaptation method, keeping it to a minimum is essential for reducing pain and further damage.
While there is no surefire dietary cure for the ailment that is arthritis, different foods can in fact significantly reduce the negative impact of the malady.
1. Trout, sardines, and salmon are just three examples of oily fish that will fortify your body with plenty of omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are instrumental in reducing the impact that inflammation has on the joints, and have the resultant effect of also bringing down joint stiffness and allowing you to regain movement and flexibility. While you shouldn’t entirely switch over to fish as too much of it for days will make you feel a bit off, there is a lower likelihood of systemic inflammation when your body is properly fortified with omega-3.
2. Soybeans (such as Japanese edamame) are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids as well, and it’s fairly clear by now what they can do to stem the tide of inflammation. They’re also excellent for your heart, allowing you to have a good protein source without relying on meat that tends to be oily or fatty depending on how it’s prepared. Being high in fiber as well as protein gives these beans yet another benefit.
3. Green tea contains catechins, which help your body fight against the continual wearing down of collagen and cartilage in your joints. Cartilage keeps the bones in the joints from scraping against each other, and as such the better shape your cartilage is in, the less likely you are to experience friction-caused joint pain.
4. Various oils can be used for cooking that will give you inflammation-fighting side benefits. Extra-virgin olive oil, for instance, has gained a strong following thanks to oleocanthal, an element that has similar effects to many NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), on top of its many heart-helping benefits. Safflower and avocado oil bring this heart-healthfulness too, while walnut oil steps it up by providing 10 times as much omega-3 as olive oil.
5. Believe in berries, because the red and purple varieties – this includes blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries, not to mention cherries – are high in anthocyanins that have an impact in fighting inflammation.
6. Low-fat dairy products can give your body a great amount of two arthritis-fighting elements: vitamin D, which helps in absorbing calcium, and calcium itself, which fortifies bones. If the lactose in dairy gives your digestive system trouble, you can opt to replace them with leafy green vegetables that will also give you the vitamin D and calcium boost you need.
7. Broccoli is known to give the body good amounts of sulforaphane, which has been found by researchers to effectively combat the onset of osteoarthritis. On top of also giving you vitamins C and K, broccoli also has the calcium that your bones need.
8. Citrus fruits are traditionally known for bringing plenty of immune system-boosting vitamin C. One lesser-known benefit of vitamin C, of course, is that having it in the right amount helps prevent inflammatory arthritis.
9. Whole grains in your food help bring down the amounts of C-reactive protein, which is an inflammation marker. This is associated with various inflammation-related maladies like heart disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. Aside from whole-grain cereal, you can stock up on oatmeal and brown rice.
10. Also able to lower C-reactive protein are beans. While legumes tend to be a uric acid risk, they’re excellent for providing CRP-lowering fiber and a good dose of protein as well as heart-healthy, inflammation-fighting nutrients like potassium, iron, zinc and magnesium. Black, red, or kidney beans will give you the benefits you seek.
11. Yogurt, particularly Greek yogurt, has long been associated with digestive health thanks to the probiotic bacteria that it contains. However, aside from all of that, the beneficial bacteria in yogurt can help fight off inflammation. Remember to prioritize unsweetened yogurt (this is the kind you’ll want to use when mixing it in with other ingredients for dishes, anyway) as the sugar in sweetened or flavored yogurt can actually make inflammation worse thanks to the hydroscopic properties of sugar.
12. The currently-white hot popularity of turmeric is not without cause. The queen of spices is known for its many antioxidant properties, among which is helping the body combat inflammation. It’s been found in some studies to be even more effective than NSAIDs, particularly for rheumatoid arthritis sufferers – and all without any side effects.