How to Eat To Heal and Prevent Arthritis

Written by Dr Jane Gilbert
Reviewed by Erica Lee, RN
prevent arthritis

Over 54 million Americans have been diagnosed with some type of arthritis, and the frustrating truth is that there is still no cure available. Anyone who suffers from relentless pain, soreness, stiffness and swellings know that it can affect every aspect of your life: sleep, work and play. Let’s find out how to heal and prevent arthritis with diet.

So what should we eat to prevent arthritis?

* A Mediterranean-style diet: this is a balanced diet focused on plenty of fish, pulses, nuts, olive oil and a rainbow assortment of fruit and vegetables.

can omega 3 fish oil help with arthritis

* More omega-3 fatty acids: these essential fatty acids are found, found in abundance in oily fishes, which can help control inflammation in the body (1).

There is now more evidence that supports how changing your diet can help ease the inflammation, soothe the swelling and improve your daily life. 

According to Versus Arthritis in UK, eating a balanced diet can help with:

Weight control: being overweight increases the strain on your joints, thus even a little weight loss can help alleviate the stress on your bones 

Getting the right vitamins and minerals that your body needs to protect you from possible side effects of some arthritis medications

What is the Mediterranean diet?

There is no specific definition of the Mediterranean diet. But it is a way of eating based on the traditional cuisines of the countries neighbouring the Mediterranean Sea.

The main components of the diet include:

  •       Daily consumption of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats
  •       Weekly intake of fish, poultry, beans and eggs
  •       Moderate portions of dairy products
  •       Limited intake of red meat
  •       Enjoying a glass of red wine in moderation

In research, the Mediterranean diet has been shown to have positive effects on preventing/improving heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, infections, cognition, and cancer (2).

Furthermore, it has also been shown that the Mediterranean diet can help decrease inflammation, reducing pain, and increasing physical functions in people with arthritis (3). This diet may help prevent arthritis. So, what should I eat?

  • Eat more fruits, vegetables and seafood
  • At least 7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day
  • Fish at least twice a week (tuna, salmon, trout, mackerel, herring)
  • Switch to whole grains
  • Use healthy fats: avocado and olive oil instead of butter
  • Reduce red meat: substitute it with fish, poultry, or beans
  • Enjoy some dairy: low-fat yogurt and small amounts of cheeses
  • Spice it up: herbs and spices enhance flavor to decrease the need for salt
  • Drink red wine in moderation, of course

Fun fact: did you know that olive oil contains a chemical called oleocanthal, which acts similarly to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen? YES! it does, olive oil can decrease the body’s inflammatory response, thus reducing pain! (4)

Featured image for article on anti-inflammatory foods

Prevent arthritis with Omega 3’s

When it comes to fat, there is one type that you do not need to cut down on omega-3 fatty acids, which contains EPA, DHA and ALA (get to know the different omega-3s here). When it comes to arthritis, these fatty acids have been shown to inhibit inflammation, thus decreasing pain and stiffness.

Furthermore, omega-3s are also beneficial for people with heart disease, as it can lower blood pressure and reduce triglycerides and decrease stroke risk. 

What should I eat?

  • Oily fish: mackerel, salmon, tuna, herring, sardines, trout
  • Nuts & seeds: flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts 
  • Plant oils: canola, flaxseed, soybean 

Pro tip: Boost your omega-3 levels and help manage and prevent arthritis by taking our Ultra Pure Omega-3 Fish Oil supplement.

Go nuts

Not just delicious and nutritious, nuts are full of monounsaturated fat, which has inflammation-busting properties! Research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2011 showed that people who ate nuts had less than half the risk of dying from an inflammatory disease like rheumatoid arthritis (5).

What should I eat?

  • Walnuts, almonds, pistachios, pine nuts, hazelnuts 

Remember: Nuts are quite calorie-dense, so a handful is plentiful!

Broccoli

Often touted as a superfood, research has found that broccoli has a chemical called sulforaphane. This compound can help reduce the cartilage breakdown that occurs in arthritis. However, research is still at an early stage, but there is no harm in piling a few more greens on your plate. 

“Let food be thy medicine” – Hippocrates

Conclusion

Eating the right anti-inflammatory foods such as those found in the Mediterranean diet can help heal and prevent arthritis. By harnessing the incredible power of micronutrients from food, we can fight inflammation, decrease pain and help our bodies heal.

References

(1) Consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids, fish, and nuts and risk of inflammatory disease mortality Gopinath Bamini, Buyken Anette E, Flood Victoria M, Empson Marianne… The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 93, Issue 5, May 2011, Pages 1073-1079.

(2) Mediterranean diet intervention in rheumatoid arthritis, J Kjeldsen-Kragh, Volume 62, Issue 3.

(3) Nutrition and healthy eating, Mediterranean diet for heart health, Mayo Clinic Staff.

(4) Dietary omega-3 fatty acids aid in the modulation of inflammation and metabolic health, Angela M Zivkovic, Natalie Telis, J Bruce German, Bruce D Hammock, Calif Agric (Berkeley). 2011 Jul;65(3):106-111.

(5) Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Inflammation and Autoimmune Diseases, Artemis P. Simopoulos, Pages 495-505 | Received 21 May 2002, Accepted 15 Aug 2002, Published online: 27 Jun 2013.