The pain experienced by people with arthritis is due to inflammation of the joints. Certain foods can help limit inflammation in the body, potentially reducing the pain and suffering caused by arthritis. Limiting foods that are high in saturated fat and sugar, such as processed foods and fast foods, as well as eating a variety of fresh foods high in antioxidants and healthy fats, forms the basis of an anti-inflammatory diet.
Include some healthy fats in each meal. Omega-3 fats, found in flax seed, walnuts, fatty fish and fish oil supplements, can help decrease rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, according to a study published in "Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism" in October 2005. A Mediterranean diet, which tends to be lower in saturated and omega-6 fats and higher in omega-3 fats and monounsaturated fats, like those found in nuts, olives and avocados, may help limit inflammation, according to a December 2010 "Nutrition in Clinical Practice" article.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables tend to be high in antioxidants and may act as anti-inflammatory foods. Particularly beneficial vegetables for limiting inflammation include button and oyster mushrooms, onions and red sweet potatoes, according to a study published in the "European Journal of Nutrition" in May 2013. The Arthritis Foundation recommends eating at least four to five servings of vegetables and three to four servings of fruits each day, in a variety of different colors, to help limit inflammation. MedlinePlus recommends choosing vegetables and fruits that contain vitamin E, such as spinach, broccoli, mango, kiwi and tomato.
Healthy food doesn't have to be bland -- adding certain spices will actually increase the anti-inflammatory benefits of your food. These include cinnamon, cloves, chili peppers, garlic, ginger and turmeric. Experimenting with Indian, Asian and Latin American recipes can help you incorporate more of these spices into your meals.
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Tea also has anti-inflammatory benefits, notes the 2013 "European Journal of Nutrition" study. Choose whole grains instead of refined grains and fish or vegetarian sources of protein more often than meat or poultry to limit inflammation. Meat is higher in inflammatory saturated fats, making it a food to limit to once or twice a week.
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- Epicurious: The Anti-Inflammatory Diet
- Arthritis Foundation: Anti-Inflammatory Diet
- European Journal of Nutrition: Determination of Anti-Inflammatory Activities of Standardised Preparations of Plant- and Mushroom-Based Foods
- Nutrition in Clinical Practice: Diet and Inflammation
- Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism: Diet and Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Review of the Literature
- MedlinePlus: Arthritis
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin E
Based in Massachusetts, Jessica Bruso has been writing since 2008. She holds a master of science degree in food policy and applied nutrition and a bachelor of arts degree in international relations, both from Tufts University.