Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in the knee. Medications can help to control symptoms, but knee Pain diet can also make a difference.
Many people find that making changes to their knee Pain diet can help with osteoarthritis symptoms, which include pain, stiffness, and swelling.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting over 30 million adults in the United States. It develops when the cartilage in the joints breaks down over time.
The condition can affect any joint in the body, but people often notice it in their knees, hands, hips, or spine.
This article will look at which foods people with osteoarthritis should include in their knee Pain diet and which they should avoid. We also bust some common food myths regarding arthritis.
You probably do not need a lot of science to convince you that obesity can cause advanced degenerative damage in your knee. Many patients come into our office with knee pain and a bit of a belly. They tell us that they need to lose some weight but it is hard with their knee pain limiting their activities. We understand and we do not lecture patients on this. We try to offer suggestive help. So, when these people come into our clinics with significant knee pain, and they ask our clinicians about what type of diet they should be on. The answer is usually, the one that helps you to a healthy body weight.
All types of arthritis have an element of inflammation, and inflammation causes pain and joint damage. Ideally, preventing inflammation is the goal, but that is not always possible. Once it exists, the goal becomes reducing it for pain relief. A knee Pain diet includes foods with known anti-inflammatory nutrients and also nutrients for bone building and connective tissue strengthening.
For starters, a knee Pain diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts and beans but low processed foods and saturated fat, is not only great for overall health, but can also help manage disease activity. If this advice sounds familiar, it’s because these are the principles of the Mediterranean diet, which is frequently touted for its anti-aging and disease-fighting powers.
Knee pain can be caused by various reasons such as a physical injury, erosion due to prolonged stress due to being overweight, etc. This mainly focuses on knee pain caused by the onset of Arthritis. Along with the right physiotherapy, a knee Pain diet is very important to heal knee pain.
Best Knee Pain Diet
Preventing and Reducing Inflammation and Knee Pain
Specifically, what foods help with joint pain? Research indicates the following foods can reduce pain.
- Cold-water fish are high in omega3-fatty acids (polyunsaturated fatty acids) that prevent or reduce inflammation – mackerel, salmon, tuna, herring, oysters, sardines.
- Leafy green vegetables for joint pain can block an enzyme that is known to cause joint swelling and contain calcium and a variety of vitamins and other compounds that strengthen bones – kale, mustard greens, purple cabbage, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, arugula.
- Richly colored fruits have nutrients, like anthocyanins and lycopene, that limit the inflammatory response, and citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C that prevents inflammation – blueberries, blackberries, tomatoes (it is a fruit), strawberries, cherries, raspberries, oranges, limes, and grapefruits.
- Oil is another omega-3 source and a source of healthy fat – extra virgin olive oil, safflower oil, avocado oil, walnut oil.
- Beans have anthocyanins, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties – soybeans, chickpeas, black beans, lentils, pinto beans, kidney beans.
- Whole grains are high-fiber and contribute to the production of fatty acids, which work to limit inflammation – whole wheat, barley, rye, whole oats, brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa.
- Dairy has calcium and vitamin D to increase bone building – low fat milk, cheese, yogurt.
- Nuts contain vitamin E, linolenic acid for immune strengthening, and other nutrients – almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pine nuts.
Oily Fish And Omega-3
Inflammation happens when the body’s immune system reacts to any disease, injury or irritation that it encounters. The symptoms are redness, swelling, and pain.
Inflammation is both a cause and a symptom of OA. Eating foods that contain anti-inflammatory substances might help people with OA.
Certain types of fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These acids help reduce levels of two proteins called the C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6, which cause inflammation.
Some people with OA have high levels of CRP. This can lead to increased pain and swelling.
Omega-3s help the body respond to inflammation by interfering with certain cells. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish can help stop inflammation before it damages the joints.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, people who regularly eat fish that is high in omega-3s are less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This may also be useful for people with OA.
The Foundation also point out that fish oil supplements could protect joints from cartilage breakdown or reduce its severity.
Eating a 3-to-6 ounce (oz) serving of fish at least four times a week can help reduce OA inflammation and protect the heart.
Fish that are rich in omega-3s include:
Fish oil supplements are also available, but eating fish offers greater benefits.
Both the American College of Rheumatology and the Arthritis FoundationTrusted Source advise against taking fish oil supplements, as there is not currently enough evidence to prove that they work.
Oily fish contain lots of healthful omega-3 fatty acids. These polyunsaturated fats have anti-inflammatory properties so they may benefit people with osteoarthritis.
People with osteoarthritis should aim to eat at least one portion of oily fish per week. Oily fish include:
Those who prefer not to eat fish can take supplements that contain omega-3 instead, such as fish oil, krill oil, or flaxseed oil.
Other sources of omega-3 include chia seeds, flaxseed oil, and walnuts. These foods can also help to fight inflammation
Garlic is jam-packed with health benefits.
In some test-tube studies, garlic and its components have been shown to have cancer-fighting properties. They also contain compounds that may lower the risk of heart disease and dementia (10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source).
Additionally, garlic has been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect that may help decrease symptoms of arthritis.
In fact, some research has shown that garlic may enhance the function of certain immune cells to help strengthen the immune system (12Trusted Source).
In one study, researchers analyzed the diets of 1,082 twins. They found that those who ate more garlic had a reduced risk of hip osteoarthritis, likely thanks to garlic’s strong anti-inflammatory properties (13Trusted Source).
Another test-tube study showed that a specific component in garlic could decrease some of the inflammatory markers associated with arthritis (14Trusted Source).
Adding garlic to your knee Pain diet could benefit both arthritis symptoms and overall health.
“People with joint issues and inflammation are asked not to have lot of grains, but millet flours are excellent for them,” noted Anshul Jaibharat, a Delhi-based weight-management and knee Pain diet expert. “Buckwheat is highly nutritious and also gluten-free. It contains quercetin that has anti-inflammatory properties,” according to Dorling Kindersley’s ‘Healing Foods’.
Nutrients in plant-based foods
Fruits and vegetables play a major role in a healthful knee Pain diet , and they contain nutrients that can help people with OA of the knee.
ResearchersTrusted Source have found that people with OA may have high levels of cholesterol.
The American Heart Association recommend consuming whole grains and other forms of dietary fiber as they appear to improve blood cholesterol levels.
Fiber also helps a person to feel full for longer, and this can help in maintaining a healthy weight.
Antioxidants support the immune system and fight inflammation. There are many types of antioxidants.
Dietitians often recommend berries for their antioxidant content. Examples include blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. Fresh red and black grapes contain resveratrol and soy products contain isoflavones.
Avocados are high in anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fat. They are also a good source of vitamin E, which has anti-inflammatory effects. knee Pain diet high in these compounds have been linked to a decreased risk of joint damage seen in early OA.
Olives and extra virgin olive oil contain oleocanthal. This compound is a natural anti-inflammatory agent that has properties similar to the drug ibuprofen.
Turmeric has long been used in herbal and traditional medicine, and there is a lot of interest in its benefits.
One review of studiesTrusted Source found that 100 people with OA who used a turmeric-based drug, Meriva, for 8 months, saw a reduction in pain and other symptoms related to OA. In another study, 50 people who used Meriva for 3 months were able to walk further and had lover CRP levels at the end of the treatment.
Watermelon is naturally high in carotenoid beta-cryptoxanthin, a compound that can help reduce the risk of RA.
As watermelon contains a lot of water, it is useful for hydration and water management. It also contains substances that can reduce CRP levels.
It’s no secret that broccoli is one of the healthiest foods out there. In fact, it may even be associated with reduced inflammation.
One study that looked at the diets of 1,005 women found that the intake of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli was associated with decreased levels of inflammatory markers (18Trusted Source).
Broccoli also contains important components that could help reduce symptoms of arthritis.
For example, sulforaphane is a compound found in broccoli. Test-tube studies have shown that it blocks the formation of a type of cell involved in rheumatoid arthritis development (19Trusted Source).
An animal study also found that sulforaphane could reduce the production of certain inflammatory markers that contribute to rheumatoid arthritis (20Trusted Source).
While more studies in humans are needed, these test-tube and animal study results show that the compounds in broccoli may help decrease symptoms of arthritis.
Fruit Can Help Relieve Knee Pain
In a study of 293 Australian adults, eating plenty of fruit reduced the risk of developing bone marrow lesions: a marker for worsening knee osteoarthritis and pain.
The knee-friendliest fruits appear to be vitamin C-packed ones, like kiwi, orange, mango, grapefruit, and papaya. The researchers suspect it’s the vitamin C in fruit that protects the knee joint and supporting structures
Vitamins A, C, and K
During the production of energy and other processes, the body produces harmful byproducts called free radicals.
These can damage the cells in the body. Free radicals have been linked to inflammation that attacks the joints.
Green leafy vegetables — such as broccoli and spinach — contain vitamins A, C, and K, which are antioxidants.
These help to protect cells from free radical damage. They also contain high levels of calcium, which contributes to bone health.
Sulforaphane and glucosinate
Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage and Brussels sprouts also contain the natural compound, sulforaphane.
In one animal studyTrusted Source, sulforaphane and another compound — glucosinolate — blocked the inflammatory process and slowed down cartilage damage in OA.
Glucosinolate is found in pungent plants like horseradish, mustard, and cabbage.
Peppers, oranges, and green, leafy vegetables are good sources of vitamin C. This helps preserve bone and it can play a role in protecting cartilage cells.
Contrary to some beliefs, there is no evidence that the acidity in citrus fruits leads to inflammation, but they can provide useful vitamin C.
Grapefruit juice, however, can interact with some medications, so you should check before consuming too much of it.
Foods to Avoid
Just like some foods prevent or reduce inflammation and reduce joint pain, there are foods to avoid. These foods are inflammatory foods that can lead to increased joint pain and other arthritis symptoms. The foods that cause joint pain and stiffness include:
- Fried foods
- Processed foods
- Refined carbohydrates and sugar
- Oils high in saturated fats or omega 6 fatty acids, like corn and safflower oil
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