Florida Pain Medicine is a rotation site and teaching facility for USF Health ACGME Pain Medicine Fellowship and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Residency.

The Link Between Your Diet and Arthritis

In the fight to ease arthritis pain and slow progressive joint damage, one of your best weapons is your diet. How can food make a difference? By increasing or reducing inflammation.

Controlling inflammation is essential because the extent of your joint inflammation directly affects the severity of your symptoms and how quickly joint damage develops.

At Florida Pain Medicine, we specialize in relieving your symptoms by combining advanced interventional therapies and physical medicine with lifestyle changes. 

We wrote this blog to give you the dietary tips needed to start planning anti-inflammatory meals that boost your wellbeing.

Inflammation and arthritis go hand-in-hand

Osteoarthritis is caused by cartilage deterioration and is typically considered a degenerative disease rather than an inflammatory arthritis. But as osteoarthritis causes joint damage, inflammation develops.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes extensive joint inflammation. When the inflammation isn’t controlled, it gradually erodes the bones, causes deformities, and can spread throughout your body.

About 40% of people with rheumatoid arthritis develop inflammatory problems in their eyes, heart, lung, bones, and nerves, to name a few of the body areas most often affected.

Arthritis diet basics

Before learning about the best anti-inflammatory diet, it’s important to know that some types of arthritis have more specific dietary guidelines. 

Gout, for example, is more likely to flare up if you eat organ meats like liver, red meat, shellfish, sardines, or anchovies. Your rheumatologist will let you know if your arthritis needs a special diet.

For all types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, your diet basics come down to two steps. First, you should plan meals that are packed with anti-inflammatory foods, and then you need to limit foods that cause inflammation.

Anti-inflammatory foods for arthritis

An anti-inflammatory diet essentially follows a healthy, balanced meal plan like the Mediterranean diet or the DASH eating plan. Both diets incorporate fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, fish, and lean protein.

To get you started, we created these lists of the top inflammation-fighting foods:

Fruits

Fruits are packed with essential nutrients and fiber, as well as potent anti-inflammatory agents such as antioxidants and phytonutrients.

Plants naturally contain substances called phytonutrients that have a direct impact on your health. They actively reduce inflammation, boost cellular communication, and prevent cancer, to give you a few examples.

Some of the best fruit choices include:

The US Department of Agriculture recommends that adult women and men get about one to two cups of fruits daily.

Vegetables

Like fruits, vegetables are rich sources of nutrients like potassium, vitamin C, vitamin K, and fiber. They also have their own unique phytonutrients. Some of the best choices for fighting inflammation include:

As part of your overall diet, adult women should aim to eat two to three cups of vegetables daily, while men need three to four cups. 

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids have a powerful ability to reduce inflammation. The top sources are cold water fish, including:

When choosing other types of fats, go with unsaturated fats such as olive, peanut, canola, and sunflower oils. They also have an anti-inflammatory effect.

Inflammatory foods to avoid

To ensure your diet doesn’t increase inflammation, you should limit:

When you still have pain and limited movement despite following an anti-inflammatory diet and exercising, we can help with comprehensive arthritis management. Call Florida Pain Management, or request an appointment online to learn more about our individualized care.

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