Arthritis and Diet

Arthritis and Diet - learn which foods can aggrevate the symptoms of arthritis and which foods can be beneficial.

There are many articles and books on arthritis and diet and some make remarkable promises that you can be pain free if you follow this or that diet. However there's no real proof that any diet other than what is considered a 'healthy diet' works. Some of the diets and myths can actually make matters worse.

Maintaining a healthy body weight is important for everyone but particularly so for anyone with arthritis. Extra weight on joints that are already struggling is only going to make matters worse and affect mobility.

Once mobility is restricted exercise becomes more difficult and lack of exercise is going to cause more weight. It's a vicious circle that has to be broken.

For someone who suffers with arthritis diet can play an important part in not only maintaining a healthy body weight but also to help manage symptoms, prevent complications, and feel more in control of their health.

A Healthy Diet

We are told that eating a healthy diet will improve our energy levels and our immune systems this is doubly so for anyone concerned about arthritis and diet. We all know that we shouldn't indulge in "junk" food. Fresh food prepared and cooked at home is usually the best.

We are told that a healthy diet can reduce the risk of heart disease, strokes, and cancer. So What exactly is considered to be a "healthy diet"?

These are the current guidelines:

  • 5-7 a day fruit and vegtables
  • White meat and fish rather than red meat.
  • Brown wholemeal instead of white, rice, pasta and bread.
  • Limit ourselves on anything sweet, i.e. biscuits, pastries,cakes and desserts.
  • Limit our consumption of processed food.
  • Always have breakfast (not a fry up!)
  • Eat the main meal of the day earlier rather than later.
  • Snacks should be limited and healthy i.e. fruit or nuts.

If we eat a healthy diet, maintain a healthy weight for our height and build then we have the basics for arthritis and diet as weight is a major factor in preventing complications.

Arthritis and Diet - Foods that will help

Arthritis can be helped by diet in two ways.   

Firstly being over weight only puts extra strain on joints.  If you actually need to lose weight it's better to increase your programme of exercise and reduce portion sizes.

Only cut out the foods that we know are bad for us that we shouldn't be eating too much of like pastries, biscuits, cakes, desserts, crisps and sodas.

It has been proven many times that people who go on very strict diets cutting out certain foods, only pile the weight back on when they come off the diet. Controlling portion sizes and eating lots of fruit and vegtables is far more likely to have a lasting effect.

Secondly There is a lot of evidence that certain foods can have a beneficial affect on arthritis. These foods contain ingredients that naturally reduce inflamation and could ease the pain of arthritis.

These are:


The healthiest of fats for people with arthritis or other inflammatory disorders are omega-3 fats. Omega-3s work to decrease inflammation by suppressing the production of enzymes that erode cartilage.

Research has shown that omega-3 fish oils can reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Study participants reported greater strength, less fatigue, reduced joint swelling and tenderness, less joint stiffness, and less overall pain.

The best foods for omega-3 fatty acids are salmon (wild, fresh or canned), herring, mackerel, sardines, trout, anchovies, flaxseeds (ground and oil), and walnuts. Try eating 3 or more portions a week of oily fish. If you can't eat fish then it would be beneficial to take an omega-3 supplement.

Olive Oil

Olive oil contains a natural compound called oleocanthal which may help prevent arthritis-related inflammation. This compound blocks the same inflammatory pathways as ibuprofen and aspirin, medications commonly used to fight arthritis pain.

Use olive oil when cooking instead of vegetable oil or butter (substitute in equal or lesser amounts). If you're also trying to lose weight to manage your arthritis, incorporate olive oil. However you should be aware that all fat (including healthy fat like olive oil) is high in calories so use very sparingly. Extra virgin olive oil has the highest antioxidant content.

Green Tea

Green tea a natural antioxidant called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) not found in black tea. Studies suggest that EGCG works to stop the production of certain inflammatory chemicals in the body, including those involved in arthritis.


The carotenoids are a group of powerful antioxidant nutrients found in many fruits and vegetables.

The best known is beta carotene (found in foods like cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, kale, butternut squash, and spinach), but its sister carotenoid, beta-cryptoxanthin, may also reduce the risk of developing inflammation-related disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis.

Researchers have found that people who ate diets high in beta-cryptoxanthin were half as likely to develop a form of inflammatory arthritis as those who ate very few; in fact, adding just
one additional serving each day of a food high in beta-cryptoxanthin helped reduce the risk.

Some of the best foods for beta cryptoxanthin include winter squash, pumpkin, persimfmons, papaya, tangerines, red peppers, corn, oranges and apricots.

Vitamin C

Research suggests that people who eat a diet low in vitamin C may have a greater risk of developing some kinds of arthritis. For those reasons, it is important to make vitamin C-rich foods — such as guava, bell peppers (yellow, red, orange, and green), oranges, grapefruits, strawberries, pineapple, broccoli, kidney beans, kiwi, and cauliflower part of your daily diet.


Anthocyanin's are powerful antioxidants. Berries are powerful antioxidants that help reduce inflammation by inhibiting production of certain inflammatory chemicals.

These compounds contribute to the health of connective tissue, and are even more powerful than vitamin C for defusing dangerous free radicals that can irritate body tissues and cause inflammation.

Some of the best foods for anthocyanin's include cherries, blackberries, black currents, blueberries, eggplant, elderberries, raspberries, red and black grapes, strawberries, and plums.


Some foods are a natural source of anti-inflammatory agents. Celery is one of these and also a source of potassium. Eaten raw at least three times a week could be beneficial.

There are also Certain spices seem to have anti–inflammatory effects, and therefore should be considered for arthritis treatment. Among the most promising are turmeric — the Asian mustard–yellow spice found in curry — and ginger. Because ginger contains chemicals that work similarly to some anti–inflammatory medications, the benefits of ginger for arthritis pain are not surprising.

Arthritis and Diet - Foods that are harmful

There are some food items that could cause a problem and are probably best avoided they all have one thing in common, One or more of the food items listed will be an “allergy food” for the arthritis sufferer.

The most common culprits are:

  • sugar
  • caffeine
  • citrus
  • salt
  • red meat
  • dairy products
  • additives
  • soft drinks
  • corn
  • flour

There's is an old myth that nightshades are a problem but this has been proven to be untrue.

The nightshades are: eggplants, red peppers, tomatoes white potatoes and tobacco.

If you suffer an adverse affect from any of these it is more likely to be a food allergy.

Arthritis and Diet - Natural is best

Research has found there is a link between Arthritis and Diet.   There are two major factors that have changed in our diets over the past 50-60 years that has lead to an increase in the numbers of people who suffer from arthritis.

The first is that we consume much more sugar in our diets today than we did 60 years ago.

Sugar has become a major part of our daily diets particularly the consumption of soda pop. Did you know that every time you drink a (regular) soda, you are consuming 11-13 teaspoons of sugar. In short, soda is not something that you should be drinking on a regular basis if you suffer with arthritis.

The second is the food that we buy in the shops contains much more in the way of additives, preservatives and sodium than it did 60 years ago.

The best advice seems to be 'Natural is Best'. Wherever possible fresh natural ingredients and home cooking is probably the most beneficial to anyone who is concerned about arthritis and diet.

Arthritis and Diet - Further Information

Links for further resources you may find helpful:

The Arthritis Care Organization website

This website in the United States is excellent and gives the addresses of many arthritis organizations around the world.

Remember that websites are accessible for everyone on the internet and you are not limited to your own country.

I was given this book when I attended a Pain Management Course and I've found it particularly helpful in lots of ways.

The whole course was based on it.  I definitely would recommend anyone suffering with Arthritis to get it.

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