Joint Pain and Diet

As we age, we tend to experience more body aches and pains. Some people develop arthritis, and some develop rheumatoid arthritis, which is an inflammatory form of arthritis. These diseases can be quite painful and even disabling.

The foods you eat can impact your level of pain and inflammation.

The types of fat you eat matter. Although omega-6 fatty acids are healthy unsaturated fats, an excessive intake of omega-6 fatty acids can increase joint inflammation. Many people do consume too much omega-6 fatty acid – it is abundant in some cooking oils, peanuts and soy, as well as processed foods and fried foods.

On the other hand, omega-3 fatty acids can help decrease inflammation. This type of fat is found in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and trout; flaxseed; walnuts and fortified foods such as margarine, juices and yogurts.

Olive oil has also been shown to help reduce inflammation.

To help manage your pain and inflammation:

  • moderate your intake of omega-6 fatty acids by reducing your intake of processed foods and fried foods
  • increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids by consuming fatty fish at least twice per week, add ground flax seed to cereals, yogurts and in baking
  • enjoy a small handful of walnuts as a snack, add them to cereals and salads, or add them in baking
  • if you consume margarines, juices and yogurts, look for those fortified with omega-3 fatty acids

Other foods that can help reduce joint inflammation include whole grains, fibre, apples, berries, onions, ginger, cherries, and turmeric. Vitamin D helps lower the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.

Use the following tips to include more of these foods in your diet:

  • Choose whole grains such as whole grain breads and cereals, brown rice and pasta, oats, quinoa and barley.
  • Consume plenty of fruits and vegetables, including apples, berries, cherries and onions regularly.
  • Add flavour to foods with onion, garlic and turmeric more often.
  • Be sure to get adequate amounts of vitamin D. Foods that contain vitamin D include fish such as salmon, mackerel and tuna; fortified foods such as milk and milk alternatives, some yogurts, breakfast cereals and juices; and supplements.

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