Anti-Inflammatory Foods for Your Arthritis

Mima Geere, MD, MS, NU  @MimaGeere
January 20, 2016  | Last Updated: January 19, 2016
Senior woman rubbing knuckles, cropped --- Image by © Frederic Cirou/PhotoAlto/Corbis

Arthritis pain can be absolutely debilitating. As we age, the body starts to creak and squeak, making our nuts and bolts wear more easily. The mainstay medical treatment for osteoarthritis is limited: NSAIDs, pain management, and anti-inflammatory pills. The end product is the increased risk for GI ulcers and other complications. For a chronic lifelong ailment that affects all of us in some way, these treatments fall short. There are natural ways to modify your lifestyle that can start to give you immediate and lifelong relief from the body’s natural aging process, or at least make it more bearable.


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Weight loss

Studies have shown time and time again that weight reduction can affect joint health. For example, if you are 50 pounds overweight, you are putting 250 pounds of increased stress on your joints. But as people age, weight loss seems like a far reaching goal and the benefits feel less attainable given the pain of exercise. The reality is it’s not exercise but diet that helps you lose weight. So consider modifying your diet to a negative energy balance and also change the constitution of your diet to add low-inflammatory foods to compliment your efforts.

Foods that reduce inflammation

Low-inflammatory foods include garlic, onions, watercress, horseradish, mustard, parsley, celery, rose hips tea, pickles, and lemons. Consider starting your day with a cup of warm lemon water before you have anything else.

Add turmeric to your daily diet

Turmeric is that yellow powdery substance that is making hot news lately. It can be found in many Indian foods and is what gives curry its yellow color. It can also be found in supplement form. Adding turmeric to your diet can make a big difference in lowering your body’s inflammation. Turmeric has been shown to be effective for osteoarthritis in some studies.

Eat whole foods and reduce carbohydrates

We naturally eat too many carbohydrates for our body. Carbohydrates not only add to the insulin levels in your body, but are shown to wreak havoc by increasing abdominal obesity which, in turn, sets off the inflammatory cycles of your body. By making the simple change of removing the potatoes and toast from your breakfast egg meal, having salads with a piece of meat as your lunch, and some clear broth soup for dinner, you are well on your way to modifying your diet to be lower in carbohydrates. Your knees will thank you.


Proper hydration is crucial as the body starts to age. Moving from the regular 3 to 4 glasses of water to in fact doing your best to get in over 60 to 100 ounces of water a day can start making all the difference.  

Good fats

Diets high in monounsaturated fats and, in particular, omega 3 fatty acids can be beneficial on many levels, including protection of your joints. Supplementation with a cod liver oil or nut and seed oils on a daily basis can benefit on multiple levels, including keeping the inflammatory response under control. However, ask your doctor before you do so if you are on blood thinners.

These early changes can make the regular efforts of exercise more bearable and help keep you moving. In the end activity does help alleviate long-term symptoms of osteoarthritis, so above all keep moving.

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