Arthritis, the swelling and tenderness of one or more joints, can cause joint pain and stiffness that makes walking, running and jumping challenging.1 Over-the-counter medications and exercises for arthritis can provide pain relief, and lifestyle changes may also help.1 There’s no miracle diet for arthritis, but many foods can help fight inflammation and improve joint pain.2,3 A diet rich in whole foods like fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts and beans is great for your overall health and has anti-inflammatory properties that can help your arthritis symptoms.2 Keep reading to find out the benefits of an anti-inflammatory Mediterranean diet and what foods you should look for on your next trip to the grocery store.
Benefits of Anti-Inflammatory Mediterranean Diet
A Mediterranean diet is a plant-based, healthy-eating plan.4 Eating the foods that are a common part of this diet can help to improve your arthritis pain:3
- Lower blood pressure
- Protection against chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease
- Improve inflammation
- Lead to weight loss, which can lessen joint pain
You don’t need to follow a strict diet to see some of these benefits. Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into your regular diet can be simple and may help your pain.
Foods to Help Arthritis
Many claims have been made about the influence of dietary habits and nutritional supplements on arthritis.2 Although some of these claims are not supported by medical evidence, many healthy foods have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties that can help arthritis.2
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants that act as the body’s natural defense system.3 Brightly colored fruits and vegetables like oranges, bell peppers, blueberries, spinach, kale and broccoli contain more antioxidants.2,3 Some of these also contain carotenoids and may decrease inflammation.3 Citrus fruits like grapefruits, oranges and limes are also rich in vitamin C. Getting the right amount of vitamin C can aid in maintaining healthy joints.3 Aim for seven to nine servings each day.2
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids have shown some benefits in inflammatory arthritis and have other health benefits like the prevention of heart disease.2 The best sources are fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring and tuna.2,3 Three to four ounces of fish twice a week is recommended.3 Other, less potent sources of omega-3 include flaxseed oil, walnuts, and green leafy vegetables.2
Nuts and Seeds
Studies have shown that nuts are packed with inflammation-fighting monounsaturated fat.3 Most nuts also contain vitamin B6, which may be beneficial in lowering inflammation.3 Although nuts are relatively high in fat and calories, eating nuts can promote weight loss because their protein and fiber are satiating.3 Try walnuts, pine, nuts, pistachios or almonds. Eat about one and a half ounces of nuts each day.3
Foods with Fiber
Fiber can help you maintain a healthy weight, which helps take pressure off your joints.3 Some studies have also shown that fiber and fiber-rich foods can help lower blood levels of CRP, an inflammatory marker.3 Whole grains and beans contain plenty of filling fiber. Small red beans, red kidney beans and pinto beans rank among the US. Department of Agriculture’s top four antioxidant-containing foods.3 Try to eat at least three ounces of whole grains per day and about one cup of beans twice a week or more.3
Studies have linked low blood levels of vitamin D with an increased risk of arthritis.2 Experts advise 1,000 International Units (IU) of vitamin D per day, but you should always read the product label or talk to your healthcare provider to determine the right dose for you.2 Only a few foods are rich in vitamin D, including oily fish, fortified milk and orange juice. Most people will need to supplement their diets with vitamin D.2
Arthritis pain can make your day-to-day life challenging, but there are several ways you can improve your symptoms. Aside from a healthy diet and regular exercise, over-the-counter medication may help. Topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) gel like Voltaren Arthritis Pain Relief Gel targets pain directly at the source to provide powerful arthritis symptom relief. Find out more about the product and explore articles on natural remedies for arthritis pain relief from Voltaren.