*This article was originally published by pt Health, which is part of the Lifemark family
Chronic inflammation is bad news. It’s been linked to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and Alzheimer’s.
It can also worsen autoimmune diseases, arthritis, food allergies, and other issues and conditions.
But the good news is, we can do a lot to manage pain and disease through what we eat.
Less wheat, less sugar
You may not be happy to hear this, but wheat and sugar are big contributors to inflammation and joint pain.
They also block the absorption of beneficial nutrients and minerals from other foods.
Following a diet low in processed foods and refined sugar and high in whole foods can help you prevent, reverse or manage conditions like type 2 diabetes, arthritis and fibromyalgia.
The benefits of whole food
Simply put, whole food has one ingredient – the food itself.
For example, beans, nuts, fish, and any fruit or vegetable would be considered a whole food, whereas anything that comes in a box or package has more than one ingredient and is likely processed.
Anything that’s processed is more difficult for our bodies to digest, and can contribute to sore joints and inflammation.
Without further ado, here are eight foods that can help relieve soreness, inflammation and joint pain.
1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Eating foods that are naturally rich in omega-3 fatty acids like wild salmon, wild sardines, tuna, anchovies and other cold-water fish increases the production of type 3 prostaglandins, which act against cellular degeneration and inflammation.
If you don’t like fish, take a fish oil supplement, which has also been shown to reduce joint pain, stiffness and swelling.
Hemp seeds, chia seeds, and many nuts are also a source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Nuts are a healthy source of fat that fights inflammation and helps keep joints lubricated.
Walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios, and almonds are especially good.
3. Fruits and vegetables
Many fruits and vegetables contain anti-inflammatory properties, while also being loaded with antioxidants and vitamins.
Oranges, grapefruits, limes and pineapples are rich in vitamin C, which can decrease pain and swelling in arthritis.
Broccoli, spinach, lettuce, kale and cabbage are all rich in vitamin K, which reduces inflammation in the blood. Kale is a superfood with vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and flavonoids, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Anthocyanins found in cherries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries have been proven to have a strong anti-inflammatory effect.
4. Extra virgin olive oil
When it comes to oils, you want to stick with extra virgin olive oil. But what does “extra virgin” actually mean?
Olive oil is made from pressing olives – the extra virgin part means the oil was extracted using a cold-pressed method (no heat or chemicals), so it has the most polyphenols and micronutrients.
That’s the kind you want, as it has the most health benefits. Cook with it on low to moderate heat, or use it raw as a salad dressing, blended with herbs as a vegetable dip.
Studies have shown that the spice turmeric (or more specifically curcumin, its powerful active ingredient) significantly reduces pain and swelling because of its strong anti-inflammatory properties.
Start cooking with turmeric or take a curcumin extract or supplement.
Research has proven ginger’s medicinal compound, gingerol, to be a powerful joint-relief remedy.
What makes ginger so effective is that it turns off the genes that cause age-related inflammation (much like curcumin), as well as breaks down existing inflammation within the joints.
Unfortunately, drinking ginger ale doesn’t count. Use ginger more in your cooking or take a gingerol extract or supplement.
In addition to being antiviral and antibacterial (which makes garlic a great cold-fighter), garlic has been shown to both protect against inflammation and enhance immune cell activity.
8. Bone broth
Bone broth is another cold-fighter that has a high mineral content and lots of collagen-rich protein.
Collagen is highly beneficial for skin, joint health and any soft muscle like the bladder and digestive organs.
So start saving your chicken bones in the freezer to make a big pot of bone broth!
More healthy eating tips
Improving the quality of what you eat will improve how you feel.
Here are some additional tips for healthy eating:
- Eat non-GMO foods as much as possible
- Eat organic
- Buy local (less likely to contain pesticides, preservatives, and antibiotics)
- Cook at home more (try meal kit delivery services if you’re always on-the-go)
The bottom line: a better diet can reduce pain from sore joints
If you’ve been struggling with sore and painful joints, consider changing up your diet.
Eating healthier can also give you the added benefit of losing weight, which can also help to decrease your joint pain.
We are all individuals with individual needs, goals, and chemistry, so it can be hard to know what’s right for us.
A physiotherapist can also evaluate your condition and recommend a personalized physical activity plan for you. If you would like to consult a Lifemark clinician, check out our Locations page to find a Lifemark clinic near you or book online to schedule an appointment.