Superfoods for Joint Health

Food can be very powerful in its ability to help, or hurt, our bodies. The foods in this article are popular for their reported anti-inflammatory properties.

Healthy joints are something to aspire for at any time during your life. But, unless you're having trouble, your joint health might not make it onto your radar on a regular basis. One way to address your overall joint health is to adjust the foods you’re consuming.1-7 One study reported that 24% of patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis who added a superfood, like blueberries, to their diet experienced an improvement in symptoms while 12% of participants who consumed things like soda and desserts noted worse symptoms.1

Below are a few superfoods that are commonly available and known for their anti-inflammatory properties. As with any dietary changes, talk to your doctor about whether or not these are right for you.

1. Berries

If you're looking for a way to add variety to your diet, berries may be the ticket! Bursting with colorful deliciousness, berries like blueberries, cherries, blackberries, and strawberries are high in antioxidant compounds that may help ward off inflammation.2-4,6,7  Easily available, simply add them to your morning oatmeal, a smoothie, or enjoy them as a light dessert. Some berries are acidic and may not be right for some patients.

Background from freshly picked blueberries

2. Fatty fish

Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, oily fish such as sardines, trout, salmon and mackerel can offer anti-inflammatory effects on the joints and may even help decrease morning stiffness and joint pain.2-7 Fatty, oily fish doesn't have to be a dinner-time only selection though; add it to a spinach and romaine salad that has lots of red peppers, tomatoes and feta too.

3. Whole grains

Whole grains, like oatmeal, quinoa and brown rice, might also help reduce the level of inflammation in the body.6,7 However, some refined grains, like white flour, can have the opposite effect.7 Top your morning oatmeal with nuts and berries for an additional joint-healthy boost.2-4,6,7 No time to make oatmeal in the morning? You can prepare some oats the night before, then top with sliced berries, yogurt and nuts the next morning for a quick breakfast.

Oatmeal and fresh strawberry, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries in a Bowl isolated on white (excluding the shadow)

4. Garlic

Adding garlic to your diet is as easy as tossing in a few minced cloves while you’re cooking. Your joints will thank you because garlic's anti-inflammatory effects can help ease joint soreness4,10-11 while also boosting your immune system.4,9

5. Nuts and seeds

Not only are nuts and seeds delicious to snack on, they're high in anti-inflammatory compounds like omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B6.2-4,7,8 A handful of walnuts as a daily snack, for example, can help reduce joint inflammation.3,4,8 Just remember that nuts tend to be high in calories so you'll want to follow recommended serving instructions.

Eating for joint health might mean adding some new foods to your diet. Please check with your doctor before making any changes to your diet. 

References
  1. Tedeschi, S., et al. (2017). "Diet and Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms: Survey Results From a Rheumatoid Arthritis Registry." Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken), 69(12): 1920–1925.
  2. Arthritis Foundation Staff (2015). "Anti-Inflammatory Diet." Arthritis Foundation. www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/arthritis-diet/anti-inflammatory/anti-inflammatory-diet.php
  3. Fisher-Titus Healthy Living Team (2016). "Improve Your Joint Health with These 12 Superfoods." Fisher-Titus Healthy Living. www.fishertitus.org/health/superfoods-for-healthy-joints
  4. Link, R. (2017). "The 10 Best Foods to Eat If You Have Arthritis." Healthline. www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-foods-for-arthritis
  5. Lankinen, M., et al. (2009). "Fatty Fish Intake Decreases Lipids Related to Inflammation and Insulin Signaling—A Lipidomics Approach." PLoS ONE, 4(4): e5258. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005258
  6. Zelman, Kathleen (2019). "Anti-inflammatory Diet: Road to Good Health?" WebMD. www.webmd.com/diet/anti-inflammatory-diet-road-to-good-health#1
  7. Paturel, Amy (2015). "The Ultimate Arthritis Diet." Arthritis Foundation. www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/arthritis-diet/anti-inflammatory/the-arthritis-diet.php
  8. Jennings, Kerri-Ann (2014). "Eat Right to Maintain Healthy Joints." WebMD. www.webmd.com/arthritis/features/joints-food#1
  9. Arreola, R., et al. (2015). "Immunomodulation and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Garlic Compounds." Hindawi Publishing Corporation Journal of Immunology Research, Article ID 401630, 13 pages. http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/401630
  10. Williams, F., et al. (2010). "Dietary garlic and hip osteoarthritis: evidence of a protective effect and putative mechanism of action." BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 11:280. www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2474/11/280
  11. Ban, J., et al. (2009). "Anti-inflammatory and arthritic effects of thiacremonone, a novel sulfurcompound isolated from garlic via inhibition of NF-κB." Arthritis Research & Therapy, 11:R145. http://arthritis-research.com/content/11/5/R145
THE FOODS MENTIONED ABOVE MAY NOT BE APPROPRIATE FOR ALL PEOPLE - PARTICULARLY IF YOU HAVE FOOD ALLERGIES OR OTHER DISEASE/HEALTH CONDITIONS THAT WOULD RENDER THESE CHOICES HARMFUL TO YOUR HEALTH. ASK YOUR DOCTOR WHICH FOODS ARE RIGHT FOR YOU.
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