For those that think arthritis is just a disease of old age or that it only affects those that are unhealthy, think again. Arthritis is actually a complex group of musculoskeletal disorders that consists of more than 100 different diseases or conditions that can affect people of all ages, races, and genders. In fact, about two-thirds of individuals with some form of arthritis are under 65 years old. This includes 300,000 children with a total of 50 million Americans suffering every day. Most types of arthritis include one of the following three types: Osteoarthritis (a breakdown of joint cartilage that’s caused by certain risk factors and very progressive), Juvenile Arthritis (occurs due to many autoimmune and inflammatory conditions under children 16 and under), and Rheumatoid Arthritis also known as RA (a systemic form of arthritis that causes inflammation in the membranes of the joints that leads to stiffness and pain).
Why Arthritis Matters
Arthritis is also a serious issue. It doesn’t just affect day-to-day quality of life, but also a person’s overall health. It can lead to depression, muscle atrophy, and interfere with work and social activities. It’s also the number one cause of disability in the United States and contributes to a majority of the hospitalizations every single year, which increases medical costs for many people.
But arthritis suffers have options; there are things a person can do with arthritis to lower pain, inflammation, and improve their quality of life. Two major factors are a healthy diet and staying active. Though one would think exercise would be out of the question, it’s actually very helpful to help keep the joints fluid and prevent stagnation. It also helps work the muscles to prevent muscle loss from too much sitting and can help lessen the severity and progression of the disease over time.
Diet should also be top priority; eating foods rich in anti-inflammatory nutrients can make a huge difference fast in terms of joint pain, overall quality of life, and how easily one can move and stay active. It can also prevent inflammatory-related diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
Anti-Inflammatory Arthritis Power Foods to Add to Your Plate
1. Leafy Greens
It’s hard to mess with leafy green vegetables. These foods aren’t just some of the most nutritious, but also the most delicious! They’re also packed with B vitamins and magnesium to increase one’s energy levels, and to beat all, they also keep the bones strong due to their high calcium levels. Choose kale, spinach, broccoli, Swiss chard, collards, mustard, arugula, and turnip greens whenever you get the chance. Try Roasted Veggies With Buttery Garlic and Spinach Salad as a delicious way to get in some greens!
Acai, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, and hemp seeds are all packed with omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3’s are some of the best fats you can eat because they fight inflammation in all parts of the body. They help lubricate joints, arteries, and also help keep digestion and brain health in good condition.
Avocados are also packed with good fats and great foods for the joints, brain, and heart. They’re also filling and a healthier source of fat for the body than refined oils and animal sources of fats. Try using them in replacement to dairy which can cause inflammation for many people, or just try using them in place of meat over the top of salads and in soups!
Cherries are one of the best-loved and most well-known fruits for relieving arthritis and overall joint pain, even in those without arthritis. They’re great to consume post-workout or whenever you’re just feeling achy. Keep some frozen cherries in your freezer throughout the year so you can use them in breakfast dishes, snacks, and desserts. Their anthocyanins (antioxidants) are what give them their tremendous healing powers and can also be found in all types of berries. Try them in this yummy cherry smoothie as a delicious way to enjoy them.
Broccoli is packed with calcium, protein, anti-inflammatory antioxidants, and vitamin C. Vitamin C can help reduce pain, lower physical and mental stress, and will also help keep the body’s immune system working well. Thanks to its anti-cancer compound known as sulforaphane, broccoli also has the potential to prevent or slow the progression of osteoarthritis. Even more, it’s also a good source of vitamin B6 to assist with energy and a healthy mood. Try broccoli in this anti-inflammatory quinoa salad, or use broccoli sprouts in a Superfood Salad.
Almonds are a fantastic source of plant-based protein, anti-inflammatory mono-unsaturated fats, B vitamins, magnesium, and vitamin E. Basically, they’re a powerhouse of nutrients just begging to be eaten! They’re also a good option for those eating soy-free since some people sensitive to certain foods find soy contributes to joint pain (along with gluten and dairy). Almonds are also delicious as a nut butter, so try making your own at home, and keep some raw almonds on hand for easy snacks and additions to meals.
7. Green Tea
Green tea is one of nature’s best anti-inflammatory jewels. It’s rich in heart-healthy antioxidants, energy-boosting properties, and reduces inflammation regardless that it’s a natural source of caffeine. To use unroasted green tea for a more alkaline option, go with matcha green tea which is technically raw and higher in anti-inflammatory chlorophyll.
Try one of these power foods every single day, not only to lower inflammation if you have arthritis, but to also keep your body healthy and alkaline even if you don’t. These foods are also some of the best longevity foods you can choose. Others include cacao, pomegranates, blueberries, cinnamon, turmeric, oregano, olives, and walnuts. Adding more plant-based foods to your diet is also a great idea to lower overall inflammation and protect your immune system. Remember, every little bit counts!
To learn more about arthritis, visit Arthritis.org for further information, prevention, and overall lifestyle tips.
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