According to the American College of Rheumatology, about 50 million U.S. adults have some form of arthritis. Many people assume incorrectly that arthritic aches and pains are a natural part of aging, but several National Institutes of Health studies show that a group of disorders involving the joints and bones cause arthritis. Multiple studies have identified specific foods and beverages that can help you avoid, delay or minimize arthritis. Add some of these nutritious dietary choices to your doctor-prescribed regimen that may include a NSAID likeCelebrex (Celecoxib) and you could start regaining the joint control of your youth.
Do You Suffer from Osteoarthritis?
A common degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis causes pain and swelling in the hands, hips or knees. This wear-and-tear condition affects 27 million Americans, mostly middle-aged and elderly adults. Medical evidence identifies risk factors as age, gender, obesity, repetitive use and a history of joint injuries. It’s so wide-spread that one in two people is likely to develop osteoarthritis symptoms in their knees by the age of 85.
Our aging population, extended life expectancy and increasing obesity rates have created an urgent need for effective osteoarthritis management so it doesn’t lead to functional disability. While osteoarthritis is incurable, anti-inflammatory drugs, pain relievers and physical therapy may reduce symptoms. Before resorting to cortisone injections, bone realignment, knee or hip replacement, see if you can improve your condition through healthier eating habits.
Which Vegetables Can Reduce Your Risk?
Researchers tested a safe, new dietary alternative to protect joints into the future. A study suggests eating broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and other vegetables in the cruciferous family reduces cartilage damage and the likelihood of developing osteoarthritis. Previous studies linked sulforaphane, a vegetable compound, to anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory benefits.
After feeding mice a sulforaphane-rich diet, the study team found significantly less cartilage damage. Treated subjects were less likely to develop osteoarthritis than those in the control group. Researchers confirmed their findings by testing the compound in bovine and human cartilage cell samples, which also showed less damage. The compound blocks enzymes that destroy joints by stopping a key molecule that causes inflammation.
The study concluded that the sulforaphane in vegetables may slow down or prevent osteoarthritis, which is good news for those worried about osteoarthritis’s symptoms. However, you should still consult your doctor about possible medication interactions before taking a sulforaphane supplement.
What Nutritional Choices May Limit Flare-ups?
Research shows proper nutrition can help you avoid or minimize arthritic pain.
Inflammation releases free radical molecules that create a toxic effect on your body. Antioxidants including vitamin C, bioflavanoids and carotenes fight free radicals and help reduce inflammation.
Vitamin C. This antioxidant is necessary for cartilage development. A lack of vitamin C can lead to weakened cartilage and increase osteoarthritis symptoms. Good sources include citrus fruits (like oranges and grapefruit), tropical fruits (like guava, papaya and pineapple), cantaloupe, kiwi, raspberries, strawberries, cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, cauliflower and kale), bell peppers and tomatoes.
Bioflavonoids. Quercetin is an antioxidant that provides anti-inflammatory effects. Get your share from apples with skin, apricots, blueberries, black currants, lingonberries, broccoli, kale, leeks, onions (red, white and yellow), cherry tomatoes, cocoa powder and green tea.
Beta-carotene. Consume this powerful antioxidant to help destroy free radicals before they can cause excessive joint damage. Beta-carotene is easy to spot because it gives fruits and vegetables their bright orange color. Excellent sources include apricots, cantaloupe, carrots, sweet potatoes and winter squash.
Olive oil. Thanks to its polyphenols, extra-virgin olive oil helps prevent inflammation. Due to the flavor, you can’t cook all foods with it. But whenever possible, choose olive oil over butter or vegetable oil for spreads and cooking.
Omega-3 fatty acids. By restraining enzymes and other elements that break down cartilage, omega-3 fatty acids help decrease inflammation. Over a dozen studies have shown how omega-3 fish oils may reduce rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. Participants experience reduced joint tenderness, stiffness and pain. Get your supply from anchovies, salmon, sardines, trout, flaxseed, walnuts and fortified eggs.
Ginger and turmeric provide anti-inflammatory benefits. Use fresh-grated ginger in stir-fry dishes, salad dressings, muffins and tea. Turmeric, or curcumin, is a mustard-yellow spice from Asia and is the main ingredient in yellow curry.
Can Dairy Delay Knee Osteoarthritis in Women?
A Brigham & Women’s Hospital study in Boston, Massachusetts tested the role milk consumption plays in bone health. Researchers recruited 2148 participants, 888 men and 1260 women, with knee osteoarthritis. Their findings indicate women who drink fat-free or low-fat milk frequently may reduce or delay their osteoarthritis progression. But this condition increased in women who ate cheese. Yogurt consumption didn’t affect osteoarthritis advancement in women or men.
When the study began, researchers collected dietary data and measured joint space width by x-ray to evaluate osteoarthritis development. They followed up with subjects at 12, 24, 36 and 48 months. As the number of 8-ounce milk servings per week increased from none to less than three, four to six and over seven, the joint space width in women decreased by 0.38, 0.29, 0.29 and 0.26 mm, respectively. Results held steady even after adjusting for disease severity, body mass index (BMI) and dietary factors. Researchers found no association between milk consumption and joint space width decreases in men.
Are You Up to the Challenge?
Controlling your weight through nutritious diet and physical activity can help reduce your osteoarthritis risk and symptoms. Start enjoying beneficial fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, healthy oils and anti-inflammatory spices today. Your joints and waistline will thank you.