/ Martine Sansoucy.
According to research, arthritis symptoms can be reduced with proper nutrition. Photo: Sansoucy.

If you have arthritis or joint pains, you would have likely asked if there was a diet that could help ease the joint discomfort. The answer is, yes. A diet that is low in processed foods and saturated fat which is rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, and beans is what you body needs. It follows the same principles as the Mediterranean diet which is proven for its anti-ageing and disease-fighting abilities.

Research has shown that feeding your body with the different types of food below will provide you with the following benefits:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Protection against chronic conditions ranging from cancer to stroke
  • Curb inflammation in the joints
  • Benefit your joints as well as your heart
  • Lead to weight loss, which makes a huge difference in managing joint painHere’s a look at the key foods to add to your diet to build better joint health:

Eat: Three to four ounces a week is recommended by The American Heart Association and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics but arthritis experts believe that more is better.

Why: Inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids are found in certain types of fish. A study of 727 postmenopausal women, published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2004, found those who had the highest consumption of omega-3s had lower levels of two inflammatory proteins: C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6. Recent research has also shown that taking fish oil supplements can assist in the reduction of joint swelling and pain, duration of morning stiffness, and disease activity among people who have rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Try: Scallops, sardines, salmon, herring, anchovies, or other cold-water fish. Not a fish fan? Taking 600 to 1,000mg of fish oil a day has shown to reduce joint stiffness, tenderness, pain, and swelling.

Nuts & Seeds
Eat:1.5 ounces of nuts daily (one ounce is about one handful).

Why: José M. Ordovás, PhD, director of nutrition and genomics at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Centre on Ageing at Tufts University in Boston share that multiple studies do confirm the role of nuts in an anti-inflammatory diet. In fact, there was a 51 percent decrease in the chances of dying from an inflammatory disease in a study on those who ate the most nuts over a 15-year period that was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2011. Interestingly as nuts are also rich in protein, fibre, and monounsaturated fats, they have the ability to promote weight loss.

Try: Almonds, pistachios, pine nuts, and walnuts are some great examples.

Fruits & Veggies
Eat: Nine or more servings is a great place to start. In general, one serving equates to one cup of fruits or two cups of leafy greens.

Why: Fruits and vegetables can help to protect the body and cells from damages by helping to neutralise free radicals with their antioxidant-rich content. In addition, red and purple fruits also contain anthocyanins which possess anti-inflammatory effects. For healthy joints, seek out fruits rich in Vitamin C and to reduce inflammatory markers in the blood, vegetables rich in Vitamin K does the trick.

Citrus fruits – like oranges, grapefruits and limes – are rich in vitamin C. Research shows getting the right amount of that vitamin aids in preventing inflammatory arthritis and maintaining healthy joints.

Other research suggests eating vitamin K-rich veggies like broccoli, spinach, lettuce, kale and cabbage dramatically reduces inflammatory markers in the blood.

Try: Colourful fruits and veggies – the darker or more vibrant the colour, the more antioxidants they have. Red and purple fruits like cherries and blueberries are great. Oranges, grapefruits, and limes are great sources of Vitamin C while broccoli, spinach, lettuce, kale, and cabbage provide just the right amount of Vitamin K the body needs.

Olive Oil
Eat: Two to three tablespoons daily

Why: According to Ordovás, the oil contains heart-healthy fats, as well as oleocanthal, which has the ability to inhibit activity of COX enzymes, with a pharmacological action similar to ibuprofen which reduces sensitivity to pain.

Try: Out of all the olive oils in the market, extra virgin olive oil is the best option because it doesn’t go through much processing and therefore contains the most nutrients. Other oils that show cholesterol-lowering properties are avocado, safflower, and walnut. The latter has ten times more omega-3s than olive oil.

Eat: One cup twice a week should do the trick

Why: Other than being inexpensive sources of protein, they are packed with fibre and phytonutients which will help lower inflammation indicator called C-Reactive Protein (CRP) in the blood.

Try: Red beans, red kidney beans, and pinto beans are jam packed with antioxidants.

Whole Grains
Eat: Two and a half cups of whole grains and three ounces of grains is a wholesome amount.

Why: Packed with lots of fibre, grains keep you full for longer and can help you maintain a healthy weight. Research has even shown that grains can help lower CRP as well.

Try: Unless you are gluten intolerant,do add whole-wheat breads, oatmeal, bulgur, brown rice, and quinoa to your diet.

Use this as a guide but always listen to your body. If you notice arthritis or joint pains flaring up after eating any of these, be sure to eliminate them from your diet and seek advice from your doctor on alternatives.

Have you found that certain foods make your symptoms worse? Do share in the comments.