Is eating an anti-inflammatory diet important for people living with arthritis?
In the United States, 24% or 58.5 million people are living with arthritis according to the CDC. That means you or someone you know has arthritis. The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis (tissues in the joint break down over time). Other types of arthritis include gout, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus. Can eating an anti-inflammatory diet help reduce symptoms associated with arthritis–pain, swelling, and stiffness?
One of the most powerful tools to fight inflammation is found at your grocery store. Yes, at your local grocery store. Fruits and vegetables contain natural components called phytonutrients that may help protect against inflammation.
Various anti-inflammatory diets are promoted online. But, researchers are still figuring out how what we eat may affect inflammation. What we do know is that eating a variety of nutritious foods may help reduce inflammation in the body. What we eat may help prevent and keep chronic inflammation in check. And, an overall healthy eating plan provides nutrients that help keep your immune system working well.
A healthy eating plan includes:
- Lots of colorful vegetables (collard greens, swiss chard, squash, green beans, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, asparagus, eggplant, onions)
- Fruit (berries, cantaloupe, grapes, kiwi, orange, apple, pear, cherries)
- Fatty fish (sardines, salmon, trout, tuna, mackerel)
- Nuts and seeds (cashews, almonds, peanuts, walnuts, pecans, flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds)
- Protein (beans, lentils, tofu, chicken, fish, turkey, lean cuts of beef and pork)
Which foods may cause inflammation?
Highly processed foods, foods high in saturated fat, and sugary drinks are linked to inflammation. Avoid or limit these foods:
- Processed meats (bacon, sausage, hot dogs)
- Ice cream
- Coconut oil
- Palm oil
- Palm kernel oil
- Some baked and fried foods
- Pre-made meals including frozen pizza and microwaveable dinners
- Aim to include vegetables and fruits with every meal.
- Eat a variety of brightly colored vegetables and fruits.
- All forms of fruits and veggies count — including fresh, frozen, canned, and dried. Just be sure to look for products with no added sugars and lower amounts of sodium.
- Focus on vegetables from each subgroup weekly, including dark green, red and orange vegetables, as well as beans and peas.
- Enjoy meatless meals with tofu, tempeh, and legumes such as beans, peas, and lentils.
- Choose leaner protein foods, such as skinless chicken or turkey, or lean cuts of beef and pork.
- Enjoy sardines or another fatty fish two to three times per week.
- Snack on nuts, such as walnuts or almonds.
- Toss ground flaxseed, chia seeds, and hemp seeds into salads and other dishes.