Joint pain is the result of inflammation, but perhaps surprisingly, it’s more prevalent in young people than you might think. The CDC reports that nearly 31% of people aged 45 to 64 years, and about 25% of people between 18 and 44, have severe joint pain.
The good news is that certain foods can help mitigate joint pain, increase your mobility, and help with heart health. Here’s a list of foods with properties that lower joint pain, help you heal, and build collagen to increase flexibility in your joints.
1. Fish and Shellfish
Omega-3 fatty acids have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. For best results, look for oily cold-water species, including:
- Lake trout
Omega-3 fatty acids work by reducing the amount of two inflammatory proteins in your body, C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6. A 2017 rheumatoid arthritis survey showed that eating fish noticeably lowers pain.
If you dislike fish, you can take a fish oil supplement. Multiple studies have found that fish oil is effective in reducing inflammation in RA patients. Experts recommend eating two 4-oz servings or more of fish per week or taking 600 to 1,000 mg of fish oil supplements.
2. Fruits and Berries
Studies have found that berries rich in antioxidant polyphenols, like blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and pomegranate, reduce inflammation and painful joint swelling. Eating to reduce pain sounds delicious!
Other fruits, like pineapple and papaya, taste great and contain bromelain, a group of enzymes that reduce pain and swelling in joints. Dried dates, plums, and figs are also great foods to relieve joint pain. Packed with phenolic antioxidants and vitamins, dried fruits are a great source of nutrition with healing and anti-inflammatory properties.
Are you looking for something on the savory side? While they may not be a sweet treat, olives are nutrition powerhouses packed with healthy fats and antioxidants. Speaking of olives, substitute extra virgin olive oil for canola, sunflower, peanut, or vegetable oils that make inflammation worse.
3. Nuts and Seeds
Certain nuts and seeds, including walnuts, almonds, flax seeds, chia seeds, and pine nuts, contain anti-inflammatory omega-3 oils. A handful of assorted nuts makes a healthy snack and wholegrain bread loaded with nuts and seeds is a tasty and healthy alternative to the empty calories in white bread.
4. Cruciferous Veggies
Vegetables in the brassica family—aka cruciferous vegetables—are some of the healthiest foods you can put in your body. This group includes broccoli, dark leafy greens like kale and spinach, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. The vitamin E in these superfoods helps block inflammation and reduces joint pain, and they also contain vitamin C, which helps keep joints flexible.
5. Onions and Garlic
More than being the staples of flavorful, savory cuisine, onions and garlic offer added health benefits that help support the immune system, build collagen, repair tissue, and block inflammation.
6. Beans and Lentils
Beans and lentils are excellent sources of essential minerals and anthocyanins, a potent anti-inflammatory flavonoid. Black beans (aka turtle beans) are the most nutritious, followed by pintos, chickpeas, soybeans, and lentils.
Like to spice things up? Peppers contain capsaicin, a chemical compound powerful in reducing inflammation and alleviating pain (also often an ingredient in topical creams). Choose any red pepper, from mild sweet bell peppers to red hot chili peppers, to perk up your diet and mitigate joint pain.
Turmeric curcumin tops the list of spices known for anti-inflammatory properties and an array of other health benefits. It’s known to help manage:
- Oxidative and inflammatory conditions
- Metabolic syndrome
- Exercise-induced inflammation and muscle soreness
To help with absorption, take turmeric with black pepper.
Cinnamon is a tasty addition to any diet, and there’s good reason to add it. It’s well known for its inflammatory properties and comes with a laundry list of other benefits.
Ginger has been used as a medicine for thousands of years, and modern science shows it works to lower joint pain in a variety of ways.
Putting it Together: The Best Diet to Mitigate Joint Pain
When you put all these ingredients together, you might recognize a pattern. Most of the foods on this list are common elements of the Mediterranean diet, which health experts recognize for its many health benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties.
Is mitigating joint pain as easy as grilling salmon twice a week with garlic and olive oil, having broccoli, a fruit salad, and a cup of ginger tea on the side? With some easy additions to your diet, you can experience less joint pain, a healthier heart, and more energy. It’s an undeniably healthy and delicious experiment!
Still not sure if your joint pain calls for a visit to an orthopedic specialist? Contact the Midwest Orthopedic Specialty Hospital today to schedule an appointment.