Inflammation and Arthritis

By: Sherri Isaak, MS,RD,CDE,BC-ADM, Jessica Grzybowski, Dietetic Intern

Nutrition Tips for Arthritis

Although there are several different types of arthritis, the tips below may help to decrease inflammation and help you live an overall healthier lifestyle. 

  • Choose more anti-inflammatory and less inflammatory foods. No one specific food can eliminate arthritis pain, however, aiming for less inflammatory foods and more anti-inflammatory foods may help decrease overall inflammation (see lists below). 
  • Phytochemicals are your friend. Recent research has shown that flavonoids, a phytochemical found in specific fruits and vegetables and other plant foods, contain anti-inflammatory compounds, which may help in the management of joint inflammation. Examples of foods that contain flavonoids are leafy vegetables, onions, apples, berries, cherries, soybeans, tea, and citrus fruits.
  • Choose a healthy meal pattern
  • Research has shown that a Mediterranean meal pattern may help lessen symptoms for both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. This can be easily adapted for a vegan diet with the help of a registered dietitian nutritionist. 
  • The DASH diet is also considered an anti-inflammatory meal pattern.  
  • It is best if sugar-sweetened drinks, salt, and alcohol are limited or only moderately consumed.
  • Maintain a healthy gut microbiome. The easiest way to do this is to eat plenty of fiber. Ask your healthcare provider to see how much fiber is right for you. 
  • Check with your healthcare provider. It is always best to check with your healthcare provider to find out the best dietary recommendation for your condition. 

Examples of Anti-inflammatory Foods (add these foods to a healthy meal pattern)

Chia and flax seed

Fruit: strawberries, blueberries, oranges, cherries, pomegranates

Tomatoes

Nuts: almonds, walnuts and other nuts

Leafy greens: spinach, kale, collards and more

Olive oil

Green tea

Spices: turmeric, ginger, garlic, rosemary, etc.

 

Examples of Inflammatory Foods (choose less of these foods)

Fried foods

Soda and foods high in added sugar

Refined carbs: white bread, white rice, pastries, refined breakfast cereals

Excessive intake omega 6 fatty acids (corn oil, safflower, sunflower oil, soybean oil)

 

References

  1. Gioia C, Lucchino B, Tarsitano MG, Iannuccelli C, Franco MD. Dietary Habits and Nutrition in Rheumatoid Arthritis: Can Diet Influence Disease Development and Clinical Manifestations? Nutrients. 2020;12(5):1456. doi:10.3390/nu12051456
  2. Diamanti AP, Panebianco C, Salerno G, et al. Impact of Mediterranean Diet on Disease Activity and Gut Microbiota Composition of Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients. Microorganisms. 2020;8(12):1989. doi:10.3390/microorganisms8121989
  3. Basu A, Schell J, Scofield RH. Dietary fruits and arthritis. Food & Function. 2018;9(1):70-77. doi:10.1039/c7fo01435j
  4. Oliviero F, Scanu A, Zamudio-Cuevas Y, Punzi L, Spinella P. Anti-inflammatory effects of polyphenols in arthritis. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. 2017;98(5):1653-1659. doi:10.1002/jsfa.8664