Arthritis natural treatment: Foods and drinks to add to your diet
The popularity of arthritis natural treatments is rising, due in part to the recall and warnings related to dangerous arthritis drugs like Celebrex and Vioxx. These drugs have been linked to increased risk for heart attack or stroke in many patients taking them. Vioxx was recalled by Merck and has paid our billions of dollars in settlement cases, but Celebrex is still on the market.
For those who want to take a natural approach to managing their osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, there are a wide variety of foods and beverages that can serve an an arthritis natural treatment to help reduce inflammation and pain. To see one expert's list of foods that commonly trigger arthritis, click here.
Most of the foods in an arthritis diet fight inflammation-- a major cause of arthritis, many others contain antioxidants and others are rich sources of bioflavonoids.
Inflammation fighters - Omega 3 foods
Individuals with arthritis want to get enough Omega 3 fatty acids in their diet. Omega 3s have been shown to reduce inflammation by suppressing production of cytokines and enzymes that erode cartilage. Omega 3 fatty acids contain eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Our bodies use EPA to make resolvins, which have been shown to reduce inflammation in animal studies. Resolvins inhibit the production and regulate the migration of inflammatory cells and chemicals to sites of inflammation. In contrast to anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen and the COX-2 inhibitors, resolvins manufactured by our bodies do not cause negative side effects for our gastrointestinal or cardiovascular systems.
One of the best sources of Omega 3 fatty acids is salmon. Wild-caught salmon has been found to have 33 percent levels of Omega 3s than farm-raised salmon, plus wild salmon has 20 percent less fat than farm-raised counterparts.
Two other foods that are an excellent source of Omega 3 fatty acids are flax seeds and walnuts. Other foods that contain Omega 3s are baked or broiled halibut, snapper and scallops, steamed or boiled shrimp and baked winter squash.
Arthritis Natural Treatment: Use Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
The "good" monosaturated fats in olive oil have anti-inflammatory properties. Animal studies have found that rats with arthritis benefitted from olive oil (and fish oil-- which helped prevent or reduce symptoms of arthritis.
During research conducted by Pennsylvania biologist Dr. Gary Beauchamp and published in 2005 in Nature, a anti-inflammatory compound was discovered in olive oil. The compound, which was named "oleocanthal," suppresses the same pain pathway as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents, such as ibuprofen. A 50 gram dose (about 4 tablespoons) of extra-virgin olive oil contains enough oleocanthal to produce as much pain relief as a 10 percent dose of ibuprofen. Extra-virgin olive oil can be substituted for butter on bread or vegetables and used on salads with lemon juice or vinegar. Olive Oil should be used as a garnish or dressing and not for cooking above 120 degrees F.
Drink green or black tea
An arthritis natural treatment regimen should include foods and drinks with antioxidants, which fight cell-damaging molecules that can damage the body's tissues, including the synovium tissue in the joints. Why drink tea? Some research estimates that green and black tea contain 8 to 10 times more antioxidants than fruits and vegetables.
Green and black come from the same plant, Camellia sinensis and are rich in polyphenols, which are a type of antioxidant. Both teas have different types of antioxidants than fruits and vegetables. Thearubigins, epicatechins, and catechins are contained in these teas. All are clasified as flavonoids, a type of antioxidant.
Researchers at the University of Maryland and Rutgers University examined the effects of green tea polyphenols on rhuematoid arthritis by using laboratory animals. Some of the rats consumed green tea in their drinking water (the control animals drank water only) for 1-to-3 weeks before being injected with a protein (Bhsp65) to induce arthritis. The researchers found that green tea significantly reduced the severity of arthritis. The findings of this study was published in November 2008 in The Journal of Nutrition.
Tart Cherries - A delicious arthritis natural treatment
If you haven't ever tasted dried tart cherries, you're missing out on a healthy snack that's really good!... and good for arthritis.
Two recent studies have pointed to tart cherries as a natural treatment for arthritis. Researchers at the University of Michigan conducted an animal study and found that tart cherries reduce inflammation-- a key to reducing arthritis pain. This research was published in Experimental Biology in 2008. And in March 2009, Dallas-based Baylor Research Institute reported that tart cherry supplements brought relief for patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. Specifically, more than half of the individuals more than half of patients enrolled in a human pilot study experienced significant improvement in pain and function after taking tart cherry supplements for eight weeks. Cherries are also included in our list of 10 fruits that prevent cancer.
Arthritis Natural Treatment: Foods Rich in Vitamin C
The Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases reported in 2004 that consuming foods high in vitamin C seems to protect against inflammatory polyarthritis, a form of rheumatoid arthritis involving two or more joints. This study involved more than 23,000 individuals who took part of a large cancer study in the United Kingdom. Study participants kept food diaries and were arthritis-free when the study began.
Researchers analyzed the diets of 73 participants who developed inflammatory polyarthritis during the study's eight-year time frame, and 146 who remained arthritis-free. The research team found that the participants who developed arthritis ate fewer fruits and vegetables than those who did not develop arthritis. The individuals who ate the smallest quantity of fruits and vegetables had twice the risk of developing inflammatory arthritis. In addition, participants who consumed the smallest amounts of vitamin C were three times more likely to develop inflammatory arthritis than those who consumed the largest amount of vitamin C.
So eating fruits and vegetables may be a safe and powerful arthritis natural treatment. What foods are highest in vitamin C?
- Bell peppers (yellow, red and green)
- Brussel sprouts
- Cauliflower (boiled)
- Kale (boiled)
Learn more about food and arthritis, review our page: Diet for Osteoarthritis.
Arthritis Natural Treatment: Selenium-rich foods
Selenium is a mineral and an antioxidant. Low levels of selenium have been linked to a higher risk for ostetoarthritis. A 2005 study out of the University of North Carolina involved 940 individuals and measured levels of selenium in their bodies and their risk for osteoarthritis in one or both knees. The researchers found that the participants with the highest levels of selenium in their systems had a 40 percent lower risk for osteoarthritis than the group with the lowest levels of the antioxidant. So you may want to make sure you're getting enough selenium as an arthritis natural treatment.
Selenium is a mineral that we only need trace amounts of-- about 50 micrograms daily. However, many people don't get enough. The food with the most selenium is the brazil nut. One brazil nut contains 70-90 micrograms of selenium so includes the daily allowance. Other foods that are excellent sources of selenium are:
- Cod - baked or broiled
- Shrimp - steamed or boiled
- Snapper - baked or broiled
- Tuna - yellowfin, baked or broiled
- Halibut - baked or broiled
- Salmon - chinook, baked or broiled
- Calf's liver - braised
Foods that are good selenium sources:
- Whole egg
- Turkey breast
- Lamb loin - roasted
- Barley - cooked
- Whole grain oats - cooked
- Chicken breast - roasted
- Beef tenderloin (lean) - broiled
- Sunflower seeds - raw
- Brown rice - cooked
Foods with beta-cryptoxanthin
Beta-cryptoxanthin is a cartenoid related to beta carotene, and an antioxidant. Eating foods with this substance can help vitamin A deficiency.
A study published in the August 2005 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, followed nearly 25,000 people in the United Kingdom. The researchers discovered that individuals who developed inflammatory polyarthritis, consumed 40 percent less beta-cryptoxanthin than those who did not develop the inflammatory arthritis disease. In contrast, study participants whose diets included the highest intakes of beta-cryptoxanthin were only half as likely to develop arthritis over 7 to 15 years as those with the lowest intakes.
Beta-cryptoxanthin containing foods that can serve as an arthritis natural treatment include:
- Red bell peppers