We take our joints for granted when we’re young and mobile, but with age and conditions such as arthritis and gout, they soon become sources of discomfort.
Arthritis can be a debilitating condition, causing pain and stiffness in both joints and muscles. Gout is often called the rich man’s disease, as a result of crystal formations in joints which cause pain. The simplest things – standing, walking and lifting – can become difficult. These diseases are not just an affliction of the old; children and young adults too can get arthritis but less frequently, gout.
Losing weight is one way to be kinder to your joints as being overweight can prove a strain on them. Still, even thin people can have joint aches. So the best way to find some relief is by adjusting your diet. While we can’t dial back time to when our joints ache less, good nutrition can at least help ease such aches even if it can’t cure them completely. Look for foods that help with inflammation or contain specific joint-friendly antioxidants.
Here’s a list of joint-aiding foods for you to add to your grocery cart:
1. Berries Foods that fight off inflammation can help those with arthritis, one of them being berries. They have anthocyanins and ellagic acid, antioxidant compounds that help fight off and lessen inflammation.
2. Glucosamine sulphate Glucosamine sulphate supplements are something you could consider. It is part of what the body uses to maintain joints. A recent study by the Australian-based randomised Long Term Evaluation of Glucosamine Sulphate Study (LEGS) showed that the combination of glucosamine sulphate and chondroitin sulphate reduces the amount of joint space narrowing over a two-year period.
3. Leafy vegetables Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and kale are antioxidant-rich, containing sulofraphane, a beneficial compound that could block enzymes linked to joint inflammation and deterioration.
4. Oranges Oranges contain a bioflavonoid found in citrus fruits called nobiletin. A study published in The Journal of Rheumatology claimed that nobiletin has the potential to help arrest cartilage deterioration, which would help ease osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
5. Apples An apple a day could keep joint pain at bay, thanks to apples containing quercetin, an antioxidant. Besides that, the fruit also has anthocyanins, helpful anti-inflammatory compounds.
6. Onions Onions are another great source of quercetin, like apples. A study published in Biological Pharmacology stated that in trials with mice, quercetin helped decrease their arthritis symptoms. Animal experiments might not necessarily always translate to the same results in humans, but it wouldn’t hurt to add them to your diet.
Foods to Avoid
The thing about arthritis and gout, though, is what might be acceptable for someone with osteoarthritis could trigger gout. The latter would need to limit food with high-purine content as purine breaks down into uric acid – the crystals in gout are formed from uric acid.
Animal protein tends to have a lot of purine thus it is wise to reduce beef, pork and lamb to 4 to 6 ounces daily. Eggs are fine as is fish, but fish is still best maintained at 4-ounce servings. Avoid organ meats such as liver, kidney and sweetbreads which contain high purine levels. While the omega-3 oils in salmon, mackerel and sardines can help those with arthritis, their high purine content might aggravate gout.
The good news is that high-purine vegetables do not seem to affect gout. Thus, eating as many fruits and vegetables, as well as beans or lentils that provide protein is highly recommended.
Another good source of protein would be low-fat or fat-free dairy products which have less uric acid. Also cut back on saturated fats from red meats, high-fat dairy and fatty poultry.
With carbohydrates, complex ones such as whole grains are your best bet – try to avoid refined food such as white bread, candy and sugar-sweetened beverages. Oats, however, might trigger gout in some people so be careful about which complex carbs you add to your diet.
While living with joint pain or conditions such as arthritis and gout can be stressful, proper diet management coupled with exercise can at the very least help alleviate symptoms. The added benefit of food that’s good for your joints is that it’s good for the rest of you too so let your body enjoy your new diet regimen.