Inflammation is one of the hottest topics in health and wellness. So it’s not surprising that the quest to fight inflammation has been combined with one of our other favorite subjects: dieting. But is it worth adopting an anti-inflammatory diet to reduce arthritis pain? We’re exploring the potential pros of this popular eating plan.
What causes inflammation?
Inflammation is part of the body’s response to illness or injury. When you cut yourself, your body forms a clot to stop the bleeding. Next, inflammation begins. Blood vessels dilate to allow in white blood cells and enzymes that begin healing the wound. This process comes along with the outward signs of inflammation like swelling, pain and redness.
Inflammatory response is also part of the body’s effort to fight off viral infections like a cold or flu. It’s a necessary function of our immune systems, but some conditions are caused by too much inflammation or an overactive immune response. In rheumatoid arthritis, the body attacks its own joints and tissues, leading to inflammation that can cause permanent damage.
Does diet have an impact on inflammation?
Most medical authorities say there isn’t enough scientific evidence that the foods we eat have a direct impact on inflammation. But there are interesting studies that suggest what you eat could reduce inflammation and arthritis pain.
Most anti-inflammatory diets are similar to the Mediterranean diet, currently considered one of the healthiest ways to eat. So even if food doesn’t directly reduce inflammation, these diets can promote healthy weight loss and lessen arthritis pain.
Anti-Inflammatory Diet – Foods to avoid
- Also known as processed carbohydrates, this food group includes items like white bread and rice.
- Refined carbs with a high glycemic index (white bread, candy, cakes) can cause spikes in blood sugar that may increase levels of pro-inflammatory proteins called cytokines.
- Naturally-occurring fats from plant sources are often referred to as “good” fats. But trans fats are considered almost universally bad for health.
- Most trans fats come from processed hydrogenated oils used to extend the shelf life of packaged foods and for easy frying in restaurants. Trans fats may be great for the food industry, but they’ve been linked to heart disease and systemic inflammation.
- To cut trans fats, avoid commercial baked goods, frozen pizza, and fried fast foods. Pay close attention to the nutrition labels of any packaged foods you consume on a regular basis.
Omega-6 fatty acids
- Omega-6 fatty acids are usually included in the list of “good” fats we should be eating. But typical western diets tend to include too many sources of omega-6 and not enough omega-3 fatty acids.
- A higher dietary ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 can trigger production of inflammatory chemicals associated with rheumatoid arthritis as well as diabetes, IBD, and cardiovascular disease.
- You don’t need to cut out omega-6 foods altogether, but should try to reduce your intake of certain sources.
- Most people get an abundance of omega-6 fats from seed oils like soy, corn, canola, sunflower, and grape seed. These oils are very commonly found in fast foods, restaurant meals, and packaged baked goods. Eating less packaged food and cooking more meals at home with olive or coconut oil is a good way to reduce your omega-6 intake.
Anti-Inflammatory Diet: Foods to eat
Plant-based, whole-food diets have been linked to reduced arthritis pain. That means eating lots of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Other components of an anti-inflammatory diet are:
Omega-3 fatty acids
- We mentioned earlier that a very high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids could cause inflammation.
- Most Americans should increase their omega-3 intake, which can have anti-inflammatory actions in the body.
- Good sources of omega-3s include salmon, mackerel, herring, and albacore tuna. Most diet plans suggest you eat at least two servings of omega-3-rich fish per week.
Red & Purple Fruits
- Dark red or purple fruits like cherries, strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries contain chemicals called anthocyanins.
- Lab tests link anthocyanins to reduced inflammation, although scientists aren’t exactly sure how.
- Whole grains may help to lower levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation associated with heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Most vegetables are a good choice for an anti-inflammatory diet. But broccoli may be especially helpful in preventing or reducing symptoms of arthritis.
- The leafy green is a good source of an antioxidant called sulforaphane, which seems to reduce inflammation and protect cartilage.
- Sulforaphane is also being studied for its potential to prevent cancer and treat conditions like sickle cell disease.
- You’ll want to eat your broccoli raw (the sprouts are an especially good source) to maximize sulforaphane intake.
Even with a careful diet, most people with inflammation and arthritis pain use medication to help manage their symptoms. Prescription drugs can make life with arthritis easier, but taking them on a daily basis quickly adds up to hundreds or thousands of dollars each year. CanadaPharmacyDepot.com carries popular arthritis medication like Celebrex and other anti-inflammatory drugs, offering significant discounts compared to traditional pharmacies. Click here to find out more about the convenient ordering process, and how your next prescription refill could be delivered to your door for less.
DISCLAIMER: The content in this article is intended for informational purposes only. This website does not provide medical advice. In all circumstances, you should always seek the advice of your physician and/or other qualified health professionals(s) for drug, medical condition, or treatment advice. The content provided on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.