Chronic inflammation is bad news. It’s been linked to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and Alzheimer’s. It can also worsen autoimmune diseases, arthritis, food allergies, and other issues and conditions.
But the good news is, we can do a lot to manage pain and disease through what we eat. Here are eight foods that help relieve soreness, inflammation, and joint pain:
The Benefits of Whole Food
Simply put, whole food has one ingredient – the food itself. For example, beans, nuts, fish, and any fruit or vegetable would be considered a whole food, whereas anything that comes in a box or package has more than one ingredient and is likely processed. Anything that’s processed is more difficult for our bodies to digest, and can contribute to sore joints and inflammation.
Less Wheat, Less Sugar
You may not be happy to hear it, but wheat and sugar are big contributors to inflammation and joint pain. They also block the absorption of beneficial nutrients and minerals from other foods. Following a diet low in processed foods and refined sugar and high in whole foods will help you prevent, reverse or manage conditions like type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and fibromyalgia.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Eating foods that are naturally rich in omega-3 fatty acids like wild salmon, wild sardines, tuna, anchovies, and other cold-water fish increases the production of type 3 prostaglandins which act against cellular degeneration and inflammation. If you don’t like fish, take a fish oil supplement, which has also been shown to reduce joint pain, stiffness, and swelling. Hemp seeds, chia seeds, and many nuts are also a source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Nuts are a healthy source of fat that fight inflammation and help keep joints lubricated. Walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios, and almonds are especially good.
Fruits and Vegetables
Many fruits and vegetables contain anti-inflammatory properties, in addition to being loaded with antioxidants and vitamins. Oranges, grapefruits, limes, and pineapples are rich in vitamin C, which can decrease pain and swelling in arthritis. Broccoli, spinach, lettuce, kale, and cabbage are all rich in vitamin K, which reduces inflammation in the blood. Kale is a super-food with vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and flavonoids, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Anthocyanins found in cherries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries have been proven to have a strong anti-inflammatory effect.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
When it comes to oils, you want to stick with extra virgin olive oil. But what does “extra virgin” actually mean? Olive oil is made from pressing olives - the extra virgin part means the oil was extracted using a cold-pressed method (no heat or chemicals), so it has the most polyphenols and micronutrients. That’s the kind you want, as it has the most health benefits. Cook with it on low to moderate heat, or use it raw as a salad dressing, blended with herbs as a vegetable dip.
Research has proven ginger’s medicinal compound gingerol to be a powerful joint-relief remedy. What makes ginger so effective is that it turns off the genes that cause age-related inflammation (much like curcumin), as well as breaks down existing inflammation within the joints. Use ginger more in your cooking, or take a gingerol extract or supplement.
In addition to being antiviral and antibacterial (which makes garlic a great cold-fighter), garlic has been shown to both protect against inflammation and enhance immune cell activity.
Improving the quality of what you eat will improve how you feel. Here are some additional tips for healthy eating:
Eat non-GMO foods as much as possible
Cook at home more (try Home Chef or Hello Fresh if you’re always on-the-go)
The Bottom Line: A Better Diet Can Reduce Pain From Sore Joints
If you’ve been struggling with sore and painful joints, consider changing up your diet. Eating healthier can also give you the added benefit of losing weight, which can also help to decrease your joint pain.
Visit our professional physiotherapist at The Bali Physio for an assessment and speaking about improving your diet.