Nearly 70 million people suffer from arthritis or some form of chronic joint pain. But with proper diet, you may be able to reduce and even possibly prevent join inflammation, stiffness and discomfort. Nutritionist Joy Bauer was invited on the “Today” show to share some suggestions that will hopefully ease the pain.
The word arthritis actually means joint inflammation. The term arthritis is used to describe more than 100 rheumatic diseases and conditions that affect joints, the tissues which surround the joint and other connective tissue. The pattern, severity and location of symptoms can vary depending on the specific form of the disease. Typically, rheumatic conditions are characterized by pain and stiffness in and around one or more joints. The symptoms can develop gradually or suddenly. Certain rheumatic conditions can also involve the immune system and various internal organs of the body.
Types of arthritis
Is a degenerative joint disease in which the cartilage that covers the ends of bones in the joint deteriorates, causing pain and loss of movement as bone begins to rub against bone. It is the most prevalent form of arthritis.
An autoimmune disease in which the joint lining becomes inflamed as part of the body's immune system activity. Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most serious and disabling types, affecting mostly women.
This condition mostly affects mostly men. It is usually the result of a defect in body chemistry. This painful condition most often attacks small joints, especially the big toe. Fortunately, gout almost always can be completely controlled with medication and changes in diet.
A type of arthritis that affects the spine. As a result of inflammation, the bones of the spine grow together.
A general term for all types of arthritis that occur in children. Children may develop juvenile rheumatoid arthritis or childhood forms of lupus, ankylosing spondylitis or other types of arthritis.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus)
A serious disorder that can inflame and damage joints and other connective tissues throughout the body.
A disease of the body's connective tissue that causes a thickening and hardening of the skin.
Widespread pain affects the muscles and attachments to the bone. It affects mostly women.
Foods that help prevent or manage arthritis
EPA and DHA — the two fatty acids within Omega 3 fats — can be converted into natural anti-inflammatory substances called prostaglandins and leukotrienes, compounds that help decrease inflammation and pain.
In numerous studies over the years, participants with inflammatory diseases have reported less joint stiffness, swelling, tenderness, and overall fatigue when taking Omega-3s. In 1998, an exciting review of well-designed, randomized clinical trials reported that omega-3 fatty acids were more successful than a placebo ("dummy drug") in improving the condition of people with rheumatoid arthritis. The research also showed that getting more omega-3 fatty acids enabled some participants to reduce their use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Green tea contains polyphenols — powerful antioxidants that may fight inflammation. The leaf boasts the presence of a superstar antioxidant called EGCG (epigallocatechin-gallate) as well as other notable healing substances, including fluoride, catechins, and tannins.
Antioxidants in green tea may prevent and reduce the severity of osteoarthritis. Studies have shown that if you consume approximately four cups of green tea a day you may be able to protect yourself from developing arthritis, and if you already have arthritis, consuming green tea can help to diminish the inflammation it causes.
Three to four cups a day can help protect you against developing arthritis and if you have it, green tea can help diminish inflammation caused by arthritis
Capsaicin is the phytochemical substance that gives hot peppers their fiery taste. It's located in the soft, seed-bearing ribs inside chili peppers.
Chili peppers contain a substance called capsaicin, which gives peppers their characteristic pungence, producing mild to intense spice when eaten. Capsaicin is a potent inhibitor of substance P, a neuropeptide associated with inflammatory processes. The hotter the chili pepper, the more capsaicin it contains. The hottest varieties include habañero and Scotch bonnet peppers. Jalapeños are next in their heat and capsaicin content, followed by the milder varieties, including Spanish pimentos, and Anaheim and Hungarian cherry peppers.
Capsaicin is being studied as an effective treatment for sensory nerve fiber disorders, including pain associated with arthritis, psoriasis, and diabetic neuropathy. When animals injected with a substance that causes inflammatory arthritis were fed a diet that contained capsaicin, they had delayed onset of arthritis, and also significantly reduced paw inflammation.
Topical capsaicin is now a recognized treatment option for osteoarthritis pain. Several review studies of pain management for diabetic neuropathy have listed the benefits of topical capsaicin to alleviate disabling pain associated with this condition.
In a double-blind placebo controlled trial, nearly 200 patients with psoriasis were given topical preparations containing either capsaicin or placebo. Patients who were given capsaicin reported significant improvement based on a severity score which traced symptoms associated with psoriasis. The side effect reported with topical capsaicin cream is a burning sensation at the area of application.
Cayenne, habañero, chipotle, jalapeño, Anaheim and ancho are just some of the popular varieties available. Ground chili peppers are used to make chili powder, cayenne powder and paprika. Chili peppers are used as a food and seasoning and revered for their medicinal qualities.
Inflammation — the body's natural response to danger or damage — must always be carefully regulated to prevent over activation of the immune system and unwanted immune response. Many types of cells involved with the immune system - have been shown to alter their behavior in the presence of flavonoids. Prevention of excessive inflammation appears to be a key role played by many different chemical categories of flavonoids.
It is instrumental in keeping collagen, ligaments and tendons strong. Vitamin C also can block the effect of inflammatory substances. As vitamin C inhibits the breakdown of cartilage, it may be of help to those suffering from arthritis whose cartilage is often adversely affected. Although, avoid supplemental doses of Vitamin C since a recent study out of Duke University Medical Center suggests high doses of Vitamin C worsened osteoarthritis in the knee.
Spices that help prevent or manage arthritis
Turmeric (Curcuma Longa)
Been used as a medicine since 600 BC for arthritis, digestive and skin disorders - it's one of five spices used in curry and has definitive ant-inflammatory capabilities.
Ginger (Zingiber Officinale)
Ginger has been used for thousands of years as a cure in Auyruvedic and Chinese medicine for stomachaches, nausea, rheumatism, and toothaches. It contains over 477 compounds with pharmacologic activity. Fresh ginger is used for common cold symptoms: nasal congestion, runny nose, low-grade temperature, and aches. Dried ginger is used for sluggish digestion, nausea and vomiting, poor circulation and arthritis.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus Officinalis)
Rosmarinic acid has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. You can also find it in peppermint, sage, thyme, oregano, basil and lemon balm.
Oregano (Origanum Vulgare)
Studies are accumulating that the pizza herb, oregano, is a powerful antioxidant. Like other antioxidants contained in fruits and vegetables, the compounds in oregano may help prevent the cell damage caused by free radicals - highly unstable oxygen molecules that steal electrons from other molecules they encounter. Free radical reactions are probably involved in inflammation, degenerative arthritis and the aging process in general. And evidence is accumulating that antioxidants may help relieve osteo and rheumatoid arthritis.
In a test of nearly 100 plants in the mint family, of which oregano is a member, the pizza herb was the one that had the greatest total antioxidant activity. Research has shown the antioxidant activity of oregano and other medicinal mints is due in large part to rosmarinic acid, a compound with antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antiviral properties. Considering how highly it ranks for this kind of protection, oregano is definitely worth adding to your pizza, or any other food, if you have arthritis.
Fiery Nectarine Chutney
Makes 3 cups
This sweet and spicy chutney goes great with just about anything! Jalapenos and ginger possess anti-inflammatory properties which help alleviate aches and pains associated with arthritis. The nectarines, red pepper, orange and lime juice provide disease-fighting antioxidants and Vitamin C. Serve as a dip with crudités and baked tortilla chips, or spoon a few tablespoons on top of grilled fish, poultry, turkey sausages and veggie burgers.
2 large, ripened nectarines (about 1 pound), finely chopped with skin
1 large red bell pepper, cut and chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
4 teaspoons minced, fresh jalapeño pepper (use more if you can take the heat!)
2 to 3 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon allspice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons orange juice
In medium bowl, stir together nectarines, bell pepper, onion, jalapeño, lime juice, orange juice, sugar, salt, ginger, and allspice. Refrigerate until serving time.
Nutrition (per ¼ cup serving)
Calories: 19, Protein: 0, Carb: 5g, Fat: 0g, Sat Fat: 0g, Fiber: 1g, Sodium: 49 mg, Vitamin C: 23 mg