“Inflammation” has become a medical buzzword.
As Prevention reports, “According to Nicholas Perricone, M.D, the pioneering nutritionist and dermatologist, our bodies actually depend on temporary inflammation to help fight off sudden injuries or infection. But when that inflammation becomes chronic, ‘the immune system mistakenly attacks normal cells, and the process that ordinarily heals becomes destructive.’”
Perricone and others recommend eliminating all inflammatory foods from the diet – including white flour and gluten, sugar, processed foods, trans-fats and dairy.
While the Mayo Clinic acknowledges the role that chronic inflammation can play in diseases from osteoarthritis to cancers, it says the evidence isn’t conclusive that diet alone is the answer.
Clinic Director Dr. Pierce Waychoff, D.C., and his wife Dr. Erin Waychoff, D.C., co-owners of Pain Stop North Phoenix, espouse a nutritional philosophy that includes a mix of all food groups. They believe in balance and moderation, eating a variety of foods – including breakfast – and exercising.
The Arthritis Foundation agrees, “Having a balanced, nutritious diet is an important part of achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. That’s good news for your joints, not just your wardrobe.”
The experts concur that anti-inflammatory nutrients in certain foods promote overall health – including healthy cartilage. Many of those foods are part of the Mediterranean diet or lifestyle, which focuses on vegetables, olive oil and fish among other staples.
Here are 12 superfoods touted by the Arthritis Foundation and others:
- Green leafy vegetables
Spinach, kale, broccoli, bok choy, celery and parsley, for example, are loaded with antioxidant carotenoids, vitamin C, calcium and magnesium. Antioxidants help neutralize the free radicals in the body before a chain reaction is triggered that damages proteins, fats, cell membranes and cartilage. So a diet high in antioxidants can slow the progression of osteoarthritis by reducing the rate of cartilage breakdown. At least five servings of vegetables a day are recommended.
- Fruits and berries
An apple a day, which contains antioxidants as well as boron and magnesium, just might help keep the doctor away. Choose red apples, preferably organic, and wash thoroughly, but don’t peel the skin.
Blueberries, cherries, grapes, raspberries, etc. contain anthocyanins that help lower inflammatory chemicals.
Pomegranates are rich in polyphenols, anthocyanins, carotenoids, and vitamins E and C. Its antioxidant level is two to three times higher than that of red wine and green tea, plus its ellagic acid helps block the active inflammatory agents that cause cartilage degradation.
Citrus fruits supply vitamin C and antioxidant bioflavonoids.
- Oily fish
Eating salmon, mackerel, tuna and striped bass twice a week – for the concentration of omega-3 fatty acids – can help reduce joint pain, morning stiffness and the need to take NSAIDs.
- Olive oil
Many studies indicate that increased olive oil consumption, high in mono-saturated fats, is directly correlated to the delay of the onset of osteoarthritis.
- Nuts and seeds
Walnuts are among the top-providers of omega-3 fatty acids and are considered a superfood to help fight arthritis pain.
Brazil nuts not only contain magnesium and sulfur, but also provide the richest source of selenium, which improves the quality of cartilage proteins. Research indicates that people who eat Brazil nuts regularly have the least chance of developing osteoarthritis. Pine nuts, pistachios and almonds are also good choices.
Throw some chia seeds, flax seeds or pumpkin seeds – high in omega-3 fatty acids – into your smoothie or on your salad.
Beans are loaded with fiber and phytonutrients, which help lower CRP, an indicator of inflammation found in the blood. About one cup, twice a week or more is suggested – with small red beans, red kidney beans and pinto beans rankig among the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s top four antioxidant-containing foods (wild blueberries have the number 2 spot.)
Avocados contain antioxidant mono-saturated oils, essential fatty acids, beta-sitosterol and vitamin E. They help suppress joint inflammation and stimulate bone building and cartilage repair.
Onions have quercetin, a bioflavonoid that quells the production of inflammatory substances. It is especially effective against free radicals within arthritic joints and in reducing the release of protein-degrading enzymes. Red onions are particularly potent.
A key component of garlic is allicin, an organosulfur compound that is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial agent. Other important sulfur-containing foods are brussels sprouts and cabbage.
- Ginger and curry spices
Ginger contains gingerols, believed to explain why so many people with osteoarthritis experience pain reduction and mobility improvement when they consume ginger regularly. Although most studies have used a gram of powdered ginger root, fresh ginger root at an equivalent dosage – roughly a ¼-inch slice – is preferred for its active enzymes.
Turmeric is derived from Curcuma longa rhizomes, a member of the ginger family, responsible for the yellow color of Indian curry and American mustard. Curcumin, which has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, is turmeric’s most active component. Curcumin is linked to reducing cartilage destruction in osteoarthritis.
Chili, cloves, cumin, fennel and mustard are other spices that provide tremendous health benefits.
White tea, green tea, oolong and black teas contain large amounts of catechins such as EGCG, which inhibit the expression of inflammatory agents in arthritic joints. It is recommended to drink three to five cups of tea a day.
- Red wine
In moderation, red wine is another superfood that offers a rich source of polyphenols, such as resveratrol, which blocks the release of inflammatory agents.
Finding Osteoarthritis Pain Relief
If you suffer with osteoarthritis, while adding these foods to your diet is a good thing, it’s also a good idea to contact Pain Stop North Phoenix for a free consultation. Our recipe for pain management is through a multidisciplinary approach, without opioids, that can help you once again savor all that life has to offer.