One of the most common questions people with arthritis ask is, "Is there a special diet for arthritis?" Although there is no miracle diet for arthritis, some foods can help fight inflammation, relieve joint pain and other symptoms. Studies suggest that eating a Mediterranean diet can reduce inflammation, and protect against degradation of joint cartilage. This diet includes poultry, fish, and small quantities of lean red meat as well as plenty of vegetables and fresh fruit (fresh, frozen, or canned), plenty of olive oil, wholegrain cereals, peas, beans, nuts, and seeds. Simply put, if you have arthritis (or want to protect yourself from one), the produce and bulk sections of your supermarket is your friend.
Fruits, berries and vegetables are rich in antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory properties, help to restore cartilage tissue, relieve the pain syndrome, and more. In addition, different vegetables, fruits, and berries contain different types of anti-inflammatory compounds, and eating a mix of different raw vegetables and berries as a salad may have a stronger protective effect on the joints. Here’s an excellent example in the Brussels Sprout Slaw, with beneficial effects of every ingredient explained.
Brussels sprouts, just as other cruciferous vegetables, are rich in antioxidants and also sulforaphane. Research shows sulforaphane may block enzymes that destroy joint cartilage and help to reduce inflammation. Brussels sprouts are a good source of vitamin K. Studies show that getting adequate amounts of vitamin K might help to slow the progression of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Garlic is a tasty addition to just about any savoury dish. Since ancient times, humans have used garlic for its cardioprotective, anti-tumor, antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial properties. Garlic contains allicin (accountable for the majority of the possible pharmacological functions) and organosulfur, selenium, and arginine as micronutrients. Garlic also contains phenolic and steroid compounds. Therefore, it can help fight inflammation and may even help prevent cartilage damage from arthritis. In studies, taking garlic showed a reduction in inflammation and an increase in mobility in patients with osteoarthritis.
Onions are also one of the richest sources of antioxidants. One antioxidant found in onions, called quercetin, has been shown to inhibit inflammation-causing leukotrienes, prostaglandins, and histamines in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Other benefits of quercetin include reducing the risk of heart disease by "bad" cholesterol and help prevent the progression of cancer. People with arthritis may undergo routine cortisone injections, which increases the risk of osteoporosis (bone loss). Eating onions reduces this risk and may even lead to reverse bone loss as their consumption helps increase bone density, which is due to a compound known as GPCS (gamma-L-glutamyl-trans-S-1 - propenyl-L-cysteine sulfoxide) that inhibits bone breakdown. Researchers at the University of Bern in Switzerland suggest that GPCS may work in a similar way to alendronate, which is used to treat osteoporosis and reverse the effects of corticosteroids on bone loss.
Cranberries, like onions, are a good source of quercetin. Cranberries are also a good source of vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that plays essential roles in joint health and immune function. A growing research suggests the vitamin may ease pain, reduce inflammation, and protect against cartilage damage.
Extra virgin olive oil, a major lipid component of the Mediterranean diet, has been associated with many health benefits, including reduced mortality from cardiovascular disease, age-related cognitive disease, and cancer. This oil contains numerous phenolic compounds with powerful anti-inflammatory effects, including oleocanthal. According to research, oleocanthal has anti-inflammatory properties similar to ibuprofen and may help reduce inflammation and cartilage degradation. This adds an extra benefit to using olive oil for arthritis.
Mustard oil is also rich in alpha-linolenic acid that may also help decrease inflammation and relieve pain in arthritis.
Maple syrup contains polyphenolic compound quebecol that also has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and can help to relieve pain in patients with arthritis.
So, for people with arthritis this is not just a delicious meal starter, but a cornucopia of wonderfoods, each with its own benefits.