The 10 Best Foods to Relieve Joint Pain, According to Science

Death and taxes, loneliness and self-criticism, opposite thumbs and love of ice cream. These are just a few things most people share. You can add joint pain to the match list. And if you feel an anomaly because you happen to be pain-free right now, hold on.

More than 58 million people in the United States suffer from joint pain — 24% of the population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Arthritis is the common denominator. There are several forms of arthritis, but osteoarthritis is the largest, usually a victim of increasing age. It causes by far the most joint pain.

Fortunately, there is something you can do every day to relieve joint pain: eat healthier. “Osteoarthritis (OA) is generally associated with being overweight,” says Eatthis.com medical review board member Julie Upton, MS, RD, a registered dietitian. “Losing weight can help you get your osteoarthritis under control.”

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease, characterized by a deterioration of the cushioning cartilage in the joints. Being overweight can put extra pressure on joints, especially knee and hip joints, often leading to bone-on-bone rubbing that causes aches, pains, swelling, and stiffness.

Another common type of arthritis can also cause debilitating pain: rheumatoid arthritis (RA). RA is an autoimmune disease, meaning your immune system mistakenly releases chemicals to attack the lining of your joints. While different from OA, RA-induced pain can also be alleviated through diet, specifically by reducing the chronic inflammation caused by that faulty immune response.

“The dietary advice for both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis is essentially the same balanced, high-fiber plate-based diet that regularly includes seafood,” says the registered dietitian-nutritionist. Elizabeth Ward, MS, RNco-author of The Menopause Diet Plan, a natural guide to managing hormones, health and happiness. “Body fat is pro-inflammatory. By eating this way, people may find themselves losing eight of them, while preserving muscle, which supports the joints, putting pressure on weight-bearing joints, and reducing overall inflammation and joint pain.”

These are the superfoods to eat more of to ease your pain from joint pain. Read on, and for more information, don’t miss the most crucial diet for arthritis.

Apples, broccoli and citrus

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For joint pain relief, you can’t go wrong by filling your plate with more produce. “Vegetables and fruits are powerful foods rich in antioxidants that reduce inflammation in joints and muscles,” says Ward. “They also provide fiber to keep you fuller longer and help control your blood glucose levels better than foods rich in simple sugars.” Shoot for at least two cups of fruit and three cups of vegetables a day.

RELATED: Surprising Side Effects of Not Eating Enough Vegetables, Science Says

Berries and pomegranates

Among fruits with the highest amounts of bioactive compounds with anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects are blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and pomegranates. Certain fruit polyphenols, including quercetin and citrus flavonoids, have also been shown to specifically relieve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, according to the journal. Food & Function.

Fat fish

Eating salmon, sardines, mackerel, light canned tuna, or other oily fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids a few times a week may help reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Studies show that having a greater ratio of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids suppresses inflammation in people with RA. Omega-6s are inflammation-causing polyunsaturated fatty acids that we typically get too much of from the fried and processed foods and meats found in the standard American diet.

Turmeric

Turmeric powder and root
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The yellowish-orange spice turmeric typically used in curries and other Southeast Asian foods has been used for thousands of years to treat joint pain. The active ingredient in the herb is curcumin, a polyphenol with anti-inflammatory properties, which can help ease the pain of osteoarthritis. A meta-analysis of studies in the Journal of Medicinal Nutrition found that taking about 1,000 milligrams of curcumin a day reduced pain just as well as commercially available analgesics such as ibuprofen, diclofenac and glucosamine.

Whole grain

A disease marker in people with RA is C-reactive protein (CRP), which can be detected with a simple blood test, according to Archives of Internal Medicine. Elevated levels indicate inflammation in your body, which exacerbates joint pain. But eating more whole grains, such as 100% whole-wheat bread, quinoa, brown rice, and oats, can lower CRP levels, says the Arthritis Foundation.

walnuts

A recent study in Advances in nutrition supports the long-held belief that alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid, provides cardioprotective and cognitive benefits similar to fish oil. One reason for this benefit is the anti-inflammatory effect of ALA, which also reduces CRP and inflamed joints in OA and RA patients. Walnuts are one of the best sources of ALA.

A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition who analyzed the diets of 5,000 participants in the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study found that more nut consumption (including walnuts) was associated with lower amounts of the inflammatory biomarker CRP. Find out why walnuts are the #1 healthiest nut to eat as you age.

Olive oil

olive oil
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“Extra virgin olive oil is one of the best fats to include in your diet because it can help control cholesterol and provides beneficial antioxidants,” says Upton. The heart-healthy monounsaturated fat also contains a polyphenol compound called oleocanthal that acts like ibuprofen in relieving pain, according to a study in the International journal of molecular science.

RELATED: Cooking with olive oil reduces risk of deadly disease, new study says

A word about gout

Gout is a special type of arthritis that causes pain, swelling, and tenderness, usually in the joint of the big toe. With gout, joint pain is due to an excess of uric acid in the blood, which may be the result of the body producing too much uric acid or not expelling it properly. The body responds to purines produced by the body or eating purine-rich foods such as beef, chicken, turkey, seafood and all kinds of alcoholic beverages. “It’s impossible to completely avoid purines, so people with gout should work with a registered dietitian-nutritionist to tailor a diet that’s right for them,” says Ward.

The 10 Best Foods to Relieve Joint Pain, According to Science

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