Arthritis is a joint disorder, marked by inflammation, swelling, redness, soreness, stiffness and pain in the joints. The fact that you are going through this article states that you are well familiar with the side effects associated with the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s) like stomach ulcers, kidney and hepatic failure, nausea, etc., which has forced you to resort to natural supplements for getting rid of joint pains.
Well, natural alternatives not only help to target the underlying mechanism of a disease but also promote overall health, without eliciting any adverse effects. Listed below are certain foods that have been supported by scientific evidence for alleviating the symptoms of arthritis.
Foods To Eat To Curb The Symptoms Of Arthritis
Besides being rich in soluble fiber that aid in increasing the rate of metabolism, bananas are packed with potassium, calcium, phosphorous, vitamin B6, biotin and vitamin C, which are all required for the maintenance of healthy joints. Vitamin C, which is one of the most powerful anti-oxidants in the body not only prevents free radicals from accumulating in the joints but also acts as a potent immune stimulant, thus enabling the immune system to fight against the infection that causes joint pains. Moreover, its high fiber content aids in detoxifying the body by cleansing the digestive system and preventing toxins from accumulating and overburdening the liver, which in turn, leads to inflammation of the joints. As a result, arthritic patients are asked to stay on an “All banana” diet for 3-4 days by consuming about 8-10 bananas a day for mitigating the symptoms of arthritis. Bananas can also be consumed in different ways like banana shake mixed with other fruits, sliced bananas with honey, banana wrap, banana omelette, etc.
Concentrated juice extracted from fresh cherries like tart cherries, black cherries and sour cherries have emerged as one of the most acceptable remedy for reducing arthritic joint pains. Cherries are loaded with powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds namely anthocyanins, queritrin and isoqueritrin that block the transmission of pain signals by inhibiting cyclooxygenase enzymes. These enzymes catalyze the synthesis of prostaglandins, which in turn, promotes inflammation of the joints. Moreover, tart cherries are also enriched with compounds that prevent the accumulation of needle like crystals of urea in the joints that leads to gout, a form of arthritis. In fact, animal studies conducted in the University of Michigan on the effectiveness of cherries found that the active compounds found in cherries are about 10 times more potent than the active ingredients of aspirin and ibuprofen for decreasing the intensity and frequency of flare-ups experienced in joints by arthritic patients.
Omega-3 fatty acids, the polyunsaturated healthy fats found abundantly in fish are known for their ability to block the synthesis of cytokines, which are substances released by the body to mediate inflammation. They also inhibit cyclooxygenase enzymes that promote the synthesis of prostaglandins, which are signaling molecules that increase inflammation of arthritic joints. Fish oil is also a good source of vitamin D, which not only aid in the absorption of calcium and phosphorous by the bones but also prevent swelling and soreness associated with arthritic joints. Hence, consumption of different food sources of omega-3’s like salmon, hearing, tuna, flax seeds, walnuts, pistachios, etc., have been recommended to obtain an optimum dosage of one gram of omega-3 fatty acids per day for curbing the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.
Since arthritic joints pains have been attributed to excess inflammation of joints, any food that elicits an anti-inflammatory effect on the body can be used to slow down the progression of arthritis. Garlic is one such food, which is enriched with an anti-inflammatory compound called thiacremonone, which reduces the inflammatory response of the body. It also produces an analgesic effect through its high sulfur content that aids in the production of collagen, a protein that acts as a structural component of cartilage that forms a cushion around the joints. Many studies have reported the role of garlic in boosting the ability of the immune system in fighting an infection and also in improving blood circulation to the joints, which enables arthritic patients to lead a pain-free life. Hence, a daily consumption of about 2-3 cloves of garlic for about 4-6 weeks can dramatically reduce joint pains by speeding up the process of cartilage and joint repair.
Citrus fruits like grapefruit, lemon, papaya, guava, kiwi, melons, broccoli, cauliflower, etc., are enriched with vitamin C, which prevent oxidative stress that leads to the accumulation of free radicals in the body. These free radicals have the potential to destroy the synovial membrane that forms a protective covering over joints, thus leading to joint deformities, as observed in arthritic patients. Vitamin C also acts as a precursor for collagen, which is one of the most essential proteins required for the formation of cartilage, a connective tissue that protects the joints from daily wear and tear. However, it is important to limit your vitamin C intake to about 200-500 milligrams a day through dietary supplements, since higher doses of vitamin C can make an individual more prone to knee osteoarthritis.
Brazil nuts are one of the richest sources of selenium, which play an important role in the synthesis of an anti-oxidant enzyme called glutathione peroxidase. This enzyme help mop up all the harmful free radicals, thereby detoxifying the body and protecting the cells and tissues present around the joints from further damage. A study published in 2005 by University of North Carolina reported that people with adequate levels of selenium experienced a 40 % lower risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis than those who had lower levels of selenium in their bloodstream. However, it is important to consume only about 55-200 micrograms a day, since exceeding these limits can increase insulin resistance, thereby making you more prone to type II diabetes.
Foods cannot help you cure the disease but they can certainly help you by keeping the symptoms of arthritis under control and can add to the benefits that you obtain from conventional treatments and medications used to treat arthritic joint pains. Hence, subtle changes in your lifestyle like healthy food habits and regular exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight and prevent this debilitating condition from affecting your day-to-day activities. However, it is important to understand that the above-mentioned foods should be consumed in moderation, since exceeding the recommended daily intake of these foods can do you more harm than good.