The right foods for osteoarthritis can relieve some pain and inflammation, but may also stop degeneration in the affected joints.
Osteoarthritis is the deterioration of the cartilage that protects the ends of bones. It is also called degenerative joint disease and is most commonly caused by a diet and lifestyle that promotes inflammation in the body.
According to Phyllis Balch in Prescription for Nutritional Healing, osteoarthritis is reversible in some case with proper diet and lifestyle changes.
As with most other health conditions, the best foods for osteoarthritis are high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. The following are the most important food categories for this type of arthritis.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can neutralize the effects of free radicals in the body that damage cartilage. It also helps with the formation of two essential components of cartilage: proteoglycans and collagen.
Some of the best food sources of vitamin C include acerola cherries, all berries, citrus fruits, red and green bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower and leafy green vegetables.
Also known as vitamin A, beta carotene is another antioxidant and is necessary for new cell growth.
Good food sources of vitamin A include yellow, orange and red vegetables and fruits (especially bell peppers, carrots, squash, pumpkin, peaches, papayas and cantaloupe) as well as dark, leafy green vegetables, including kale and spinach.
Sulfur is needed for the repair and rebuilding of bone, cartilage and connective tissue, according to Balch. It also assists in calcium absorption.
Good food sources of sulfur include asparagus, garlic, onions and eggs.
Vitamin D acts both as a vitamin and as a hormone and is necessary for absorption of calcium and phosphorous.
Getting sun exposure to the face, arms and legs (without sunscreen) for at least 15 minutes three times a week is the best source of vitamin D.
Food sources include fish liver oils, salmon, tuna, sardines, vitamin D-fortified dairy products and eggs.
The primary benefit of foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids is that they help prevent and reduce inflammation. They also assist in keeping the outer membranes of joint cells healthy.
The richest food sources of omega-3 fatty acids include cold-water fish (tuna, salmon, sardines, halibut), ground flax seeds, walnuts, pecans, cold-pressed olive oil and soy foods, such as tempeh, tofu and miso.
The worst foods for osteoarthritis include processed sugar, saturated fat, and refined carbohydrates.
According to MedicalNewsToday, the processed sugars that are added sweetened beverages, such as sodas, sweet tea, some juices, and flavored coffees are most likely to increase inflammation.
Not all fats are unhealthy, but the saturated fats found in foods like pizza and red meat are highly inflammatory.
Refined carboyhydrates—such as chips, cookies, white bread, and white rice—can increase production of certain oxidant that promote degeneration.
Prescription for Nutritional Healing; Phyllis A. Balch, CNC; 2000.