Foods to ease arthritis pain

by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR

Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.

Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

The use of foods to ease arthritis pain has been controversial. In recent years though, a number of studies have demonstrated that certain foods do have anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, and analgesic effects.

While medications may help arthritis, some can pose serious risks. But, diet and exercise are often neglected. The irony is that they are as important as medicines in treating arthritis.

As alluded to above, there are certain foods that can increase inflammation and there are those that can decrease it.

Omega 3 fatty acids found in foods such as salmon, sardines and tuna can help decrease inflammation.

Salmon and other oily fish, such as sardines, halibut, supply omega-3 oils. Two or three servings of fatty fish a week is ideal. Cod liver oil, which is also rich in vitamin D and vitamin A is high in omega-3. One teaspoon of cod liver oil a day is recommended. A word of caution: excessive amounts of omega-3 increase the risk of bleeding problems, which can be hazardous for patients taking arthritis drugs that may also interfere with normal blood clotting.

The best sources of omega-3 fatty acids are fish that come from cold water. Fish from warmer waters and those raised on fish farms have less. You can also find omega-3 fatty acids in other foods, including butter nuts, black walnuts, and green soybeans.

Likewise, you can get omega-3s through supplements. If you use a supplement, make sure that it clearly lists the amount of DHA and EPA per capsule. There is no RDA for fish oil: Some authorities suggest taking 3 grams of DHA and/or EPA per day.

Fresh green and yellow vegetables provide beta carotene, vitamin C, and other antioxidants to reduce cell damage.

Grapefruit and other fresh fruits provide citrus flavonoids, substances that are potent antioxidants.

Peas and other legumes contain zinc, a mineral that supports immune system function. Other good sources of zinc include oysters, wheat germ and whole-wheat products, and milk.

Ginger, a commonly used spice, has anti-inflammatory effects.

Relief may come by rubbing painful joints with a cream containing capsaicin, an oil found in hot peppers. Capsaicin is absorbed through the skin and reduces inflammation. There is danger here though since reports of second degree burns has occurred in some.

Some natural supplements for rheumatoid arthritis include: evening primrose oil,vitamin E, zinc, and flaxseed. Helpful herbs include boswellia, devil´s claw, curcumin, ginger, white willow, sarsparilla, and bromelain. In Europe, physicians also advise the use of botanical oils, primarily camphor oil, eucalyptus, pine needle oil, and rosemary oil, as topical applications for arthritic joints.

Going on a vegetarian diet may also be helpful.

Some more food advice:

•Anchovies are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. The omega-3 fatty acids help regulate prostaglandins, which play a role in inflammation. However, anchovies are extremely high in sodium so be cautious if you have hypertension or heart disease.
•Apples contain boron, a mineral that may reduce the risk of developing osteoarthritis.
•Cantaloupe contains large amounts of vitamin C and beta-carotene. These two vitamins help to control the oxidative and free-radical damage that may contribute to arthritis.
•Chile peppers contain capsaicin. This blockes the effects of substance P, which is a neurotransmitter of pain.
•Curry is a combination of spices that includes turmeric, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, and a few others. Curry contains powerful antioxidants that may help relieve inflammation and reduce pain.
•Fish has omega-3 fatty acids which are most abundant in varieties such as Norwegian sardines, Atlantic mackerel, sablefish, rainbow trout, and striped bass.
•Garlic appears to relieve some forms of arthritis pain. This benefit may be due to the fact that garlic contains a sulfur compound, which has been known for many years to help relieve arthritis symptoms.
•Mangoes are loaded with three powerful antioxidants: 90 percent of the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowances) for vitamin C, 75 percent of the daily dose of beta-carotene, plus vitamin E.
•Almonds, peanuts, and hazelnuts are good sources of boron, a mineral that relieve arthritis symptoms.
•Papaya contains the antioxidant, vitamin C, plus more than half the daily allotment of beta-carotene.
•Drinking water per day can help with gout by flushing uric acid from the body.

Other arthritis healing foods include walnuts, olive oil, cheese, soy, broccoli, pineapple, and green tea.

Fat is bad. Fat cells produce leptins, chemical messengers that stimulate inflammation.

To avoid inflammation, also stay away from red meats and heavily processed foods.

Take supplements only after discussing them with your physician. In addition, make sure your doctor always knows what supplements you are taking, because they may interfere with other drugs.

A caveat: Avoid deep-frying your fish. Doing so destroys the omega-3s.

Although most of the omega-6s are not recommended, one of them is good for arthritis patients: gamma-linolenic acid, or GLA for short. Several studies have shown that GLA helps reduce pain and inflammation in RA patients, and it may also help with other forms of arthritis.

In addition to evening primrose oil, good sources of GLA include borage oil and black currant oil. Make sure that the primrose oil or other product you purchase lists the GLA content on the label so you know exactly how many capsules or spoonfuls you need to take to get the desired dosage. Evening primrose oil, borage oil, and black currant oil are available in most health food stores.

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Click here Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

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