Arthritis refers to inflammation of the joints. It is a common condition that can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints. There are over 100 different types of arthritis.
They can affect people of all ages but are more common in older adults. The most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout.
In the US, adults with arthritis are most likely to experience work disabilities. The CDC estimates that 25.7 million adults with arthritis cannot engage in regular activities. Estimates are that the number will reach 35 million by 2040.
One of the most frequent concerns among arthritis patients is “Is there an arthritis-specific diet?”. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all diet for arthritis. However, many foods can reduce inflammation and joint pain.
What is the Arthritis Diet?
An arthritis diet is one that aims to reduce inflammation being experienced in the joints and one that simultaneously improves other symptoms.
One dietary approach that works for people with arthritis is the Mediterranean diet. It is a plant-based diet that consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and healthy fats such as olive oil.
This diet reduces the risk of inflammation and chronic disease. It may be ideal for heart disease and certain types of cancer. In addition, some studies have suggested that specific dietary patterns, such as the Mediterranean diet, may reduce pain and increase physical function in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Another dietary pattern suggested for people with arthritis is the anti-inflammatory diet. It includes foods that have anti-inflammatory properties. Some of them are the following.
- Fatty fish (such as salmon and tuna)
- Nuts and seeds (such as flaxseeds and chia seeds)
- Spices (such as turmeric and ginger)
A study shows that an anti-inflammatory diet may help reduce pain and inflammation and improve overall health.
Another study revealed that weight management is a critical factor in managing arthritis. Carrying excess weight puts extra strain on the joints. It can worsen symptoms.
If you are overweight or obese, your healthcare provider may suggest a weight loss plan as part of your treatment plan. Choose healthy fats. Such as olive oil, avocado, and nuts, over unhealthy fats. Good fats are satiating and can help with weight loss.
Omega-3 fatty acids in foods such as fatty fish, nuts, and seeds help reduce inflammation. Also, limit processed and refined foods. These are often high in added sugars, salt, and unhealthy fats.
The 7-Day Arthritis Diet Plan
An arthritis diet plan should focus on whole, unprocessed foods that are rich in nutrients and low in inflammation-causing substances.
Here is a 7-day sample meal plan that you may find helpful:
- Breakfast: Overnight oats with seeds-berries mix, and almond milk
- Lunch: Quinoa and vegetable stir-fry
- Dinner: Grilled chicken or tofu with roasted sprouts and boiled sweet potatoes
- Breakfast: Whole grain toast with scrambled eggs
- Lunch: Black bean and sweet potato soup
- Dinner: Quinoa and baked fish or tofu with roasted vegetables
- Breakfast: Greek yoghourt with seeds and fruit & nut mix
- Lunch: Whole wheat pasta and steamed broccoli
- Dinner: Baked salmon/ steamed black beans with quinoa and roasted asparagus
- Breakfast: Oatmeal with nuts, seeds, and dried fruit
- Lunch: Vegetarian chilli with beans, vegetables, and whole-grain cornbread
- Dinner: Grilled chicken or boiled chickpeas with roasted vegetables and brown rice
- Breakfast: Green leafy smoothie with flaxseeds and almond milk
- Lunch: Grilled chicken or tofu with oats and roasted vegetables
- Dinner: Spinach curry with roasted vegetables and brown rice
- Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with grilled vegetables and whole-grain toast
- Lunch: Chickpea and vegetable curry with brown rice
- Dinner: Tofu curry with brown rice and steamed asparagus
- Breakfast: Fruit smoothie with berries and nuts
- Lunch: Whole wheat pita with hummus, veggies, and grilled chicken
- Dinner: Baked chicken or boiled lentils with baba ghanoush and steamed broccoli
It is important to remember that this is just one example of a 7-day arthritis diet plan and that everyone’s nutritional needs are different. So it is best to consult with a healthcare professional to create a personalised arthritis diet plan.
The HealthifyMe Note
Each type of arthritis has its causes and risk factors, and treatment options may vary. However, dietary changes can often be critical in managing arthritis and reducing inflammation. For example, the diet should include foods rich in anti-inflammatory nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids. In addition, it must exclude foods that may trigger inflammation. Remember, it is not necessary to eat a specific list of “arthritis foods” to manage your condition. Instead, focus on eating a well-balanced diet. In addition, it must include a variety of nutrient-dense foods. Examples are fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources.
Foods in Arthritis Diet with Nutritional Information
There is no cure for arthritis. But some evidence suggests that certain dietary factors may play a role in managing the disease. For example, many foods can benefit people with arthritis. They can help reduce inflammation and provide essential nutrients for joint health.
Here is a list of some foods with their nutritional content:
These small, sweet berries are high in antioxidants. They can help reduce inflammation. 100g of blueberries contains 57 calories, 0.33 grams of fat, 14.49 grams of carbohydrates, and 0.74 grams of protein.
Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. As a result, it can help reduce inflammation. It can also improve joint health. A 100g serving of salmon contains 127 calories, 4.4 grams of fat, 0 grams of carbohydrates, and 20.5 grams of protein.
Spinach is a leafy green vegetable. It is high in antioxidants. It also has anti-inflammatory properties. 100g of raw spinach contains 23 calories, 0.39 grams of fat, 3.63 grams of carbohydrates, and 2.86 grams of protein.
Nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, and peanuts, are a good source of healthy fats and protein. They also contain antioxidants and other nutrients.
They help reduce inflammation. One hundred grams of almonds contain 579 calories, 49.9 grams of fat, 21.6 grams of carbohydrates, and 21.2 grams of protein.
Sweet potatoes are a good source of vitamin A. It is vital for maintaining healthy skin and eyes. Sweet potatoes are also high in antioxidants.
They have anti-inflammatory properties. One medium-cooked sweet potato contains 76 calories, 0.14 grams of fat, 17.7 grams of carbohydrates, and 1.37 grams of protein.
It is a healthy fat with antioxidants. Also, it contains anti-inflammatory properties. You can use it in cooking or as a dressing for salads. 100 g of extra virgin olive oil contains 884 calories, 93.7 grams of fat, 0 grams of carbohydrates, and 0 grams of protein.
Whole grains are a good source of fibre and nutrients. They help reduce inflammation. Examples are quinoa, oats, and brown rice. For instance, one cup of cooked brown rice provides about 123 calories, 2.74 grams of protein, 1.6 grams of fibre, and various B vitamins. B vitamins, including thiamin, niacin, and vitamin B6.
Legumes are a good source of protein, fibre, and nutrients like iron and folate. Legumes, such as beans, lentils, and peas, are high in protein. In addition, they are low in fat.
For example, a 1/2 cup (100-gram) serving of cooked lentils contains 9 grams of protein and 0.38 grams of fat.
Foods like chicken, turkey, and tofu can provide the required protein without contributing to inflammation. For example, a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of cooked chicken breast contains 32 grams of protein and 3.24 grams of fat.
The HealthifyMe Tip
It’s important to note that while specific dietary patterns and individual foods may help manage the symptoms of arthritis, they are not a substitute for medical treatment. Therefore, if you have arthritis, consulting a healthcare provider is essential. They will develop a comprehensive treatment plan that may include medications, physical therapy, and other necessary interventions.
Speaking with a registered dietitian about your specific needs and how to incorporate these recommendations into your diet is crucial. For instance, suppose you have arthritis and want to manage your condition through diet. In that case, HealthifyMe can help by providing you with a customised meal plan tailored to your specific needs and goals.
Foods to Avoid in Arthritis Diet
Some people with arthritis may find that certain foods trigger or worsen their symptoms. Here are a few things to consider:
- Nightshade Vegetables: Some people with arthritis report that nightshade vegetables, such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants, can worsen their symptoms
- Gluten: Some people with arthritis may have gluten sensitivity. It is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. If you have gluten sensitivity, eliminating gluten from your diet may help improve your symptoms.
- High-purine Foods: Foods high in purines, such as organ meats, anchovies, and some types of seafood, may worsen symptoms in people with gout, a kind of arthritis.
- Processed Foods: Processed foods may contain additives and preservatives that can worsen inflammation in the body. Limit your intake of processed foods. Also, focus on eating a diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods.
- Alcohol: Excessive alcohol consumption can contribute to inflammation. It may worsen arthritis symptoms.
- Sugar: High intake of added sugars can result in increased inflammation in the body.
There is no specific diet that can cure arthritis. However, certain foods and nutrients may help to reduce inflammation and manage symptoms.
Also, it is essential to note that what works for one person with arthritis may not work for another. Thus, it’s best to talk to a healthcare provider or registered dietitian to manage your condition.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What is the best diet to get rid of arthritis?
A. There is no one-size-fits-all diet for people with arthritis. Please note that everyone’s needs are different. However, there is some evidence that specific dietary patterns may be beneficial for people with arthritis. These include Mediterranean diet, plant-based diet and anti-inflammatory diet. These can help people maintain a healthy weight and manage their arthritis symptoms.
Q. What foods can make arthritis worse?
A. Certain foods may contribute to inflammation, which can worsen arthritis symptoms. These foods include refined carbs, fried foods, processed meats and sweets and sugary drinks. However, these foods may not have the same effect on everyone. Try cutting out these foods from your diet to see if your symptoms improve.
Q. Can arthritis be reversed by diet?
A. There is no scientific evidence that one can reverse arthritis by diet alone. However, making specific dietary changes may help reduce inflammation. As a result, it may alleviate some of the symptoms of arthritis.
For example, following a Mediterranean-style diet may help reduce inflammation and improve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Similarly, a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids may also help reduce inflammation and improve symptoms of arthritis.
Q. Is Egg good for arthritis?
A. There is no specific evidence to suggest that eggs directly affect arthritis. However, eggs are a good source of nutrients that may benefit people with arthritis. They are a high-quality protein source and contain several vitamins and minerals. These include vitamin D, which is vital for bone health. Additionally, eggs are relatively low in calories and fat. Naturally, that makes them a good choice for people trying to maintain a healthy weight. However, excess weight can put additional stress on joints and worsen symptoms of arthritis.
Q. What breakfast food is good for arthritis?
Some ideas for breakfast foods include oatmeal with nuts and berries, an egg omelette with whole grain toast, or a smoothie made with leafy greens, berries, and seeds.
Q. Does chocolate affect arthritis?
A. There is no scientific evidence to suggest that chocolate affects arthritis. However, it is essential to note that chocolate is high in calories and sugar. Consuming too much of it can contribute to weight gain and other health problems. However, eating dark chocolate with 90 to 95% cocoa is always a good idea. One or two pieces of dark chocolate can be good for your health.
Q. What drinks are good for arthritis?
A. Certain drinks may have properties that can help reduce inflammation, which is a common symptom of arthritis. Water helps reduce inflammation. Green tea is another option as it contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Tart cherry juice contains compounds that reduce inflammation and pain. Turmeric milk contains curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger is a spice that has anti-inflammatory properties. Thus, ginger tea may help reduce inflammation and pain. However, while these drinks may have potential benefits they are not a replacement for conventional treatment for arthritis.
The Supporting Sources
1. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention
2. Forsyth C, Kouvari M, D’Cunha NM, Georgousopoulou EN, Panagiotakos DB, Mellor DD, Kellett J, Naumovski N. The effects of the Mediterranean diet on rheumatoid arthritis prevention and treatment: a systematic review of prospective human studies. Rheumatol Int. 2018 May;38(5):737-747. doi: 10.1007/s00296-017-3912-1. Epub 2017 Dec 18. PMID: 29256100.
3. Schönenberger KA, Schüpfer AC, Gloy VL, Hasler P, Stanga Z, Kaegi-Braun N, Reber E. Effect of Anti-Inflammatory Diets on Pain in Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Nutrients. 2021 Nov 24;13(12):4221. doi: 10.3390/nu13124221. PMID: 34959772; PMCID: PMC8706441.
4. Arthritis Foundation
5. Skoczyńska M, Świerkot J. The role of diet in rheumatoid arthritis. Reumatologia. 2018;56(4):259-267. doi: 10.5114/reum.2018.77979. Epub 2018 Aug 31. PMID: 30237632; PMCID: PMC6142028.