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Osteoarthritis Diet: Top Best Foods to Eat and Avoid

Osteoarthritis Diet

Osteoarthritis Diet - (Image Credit: Shutterstock)

Story At-A-Glance
  • Osteoarthritis is caused by the deterioration of cartilage between the bones.
  • Osteoarthritis may lead to pain, stiffness, tenderness, loss of flexibility, grating sensation, bone spurs, and swelling.
  • An osteoarthritis diet plan will reduce osteoarthritis symptoms.
  • An anti-inflammatory diet plan will help in avoiding further damage to your joints.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids, good fat sources, and high fiber foods are good to reduce osteoarthritis symptoms.
  • Regulating your weight and maintaining a healthy osteoarthritis diet plan will also help in avoiding extra pressure on your joints.
  • Avoid inflammatory foods like sugar, refined carbohydrates, saturated fat, which make the symptoms worse.

Osteoarthritis is a common condition, especially among middle-aged people and work in areas with a high level of physical activity. Osteoarthritis is usually categorized as a “wear and tear” disease.

If you are interested in knowing more about this condition. Continue reading below for more valuable insights.

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis emerges when the protective cartilage that cushions the room between your bones slowly deteriorates. Cartilage is a solid but slippery tissue that enables your joint to move almost frictionless.

It may happen in any joint. However, many people usually experience it on the knees, lower back, hips, and neck areas. This is because those areas usually experience more impact during daily and work activities.

Age and Obesity

Many factors may lead to osteoarthritis. Age, obesity, injuries, and genetics will play a big role in osteoarthritis. Other factors like sex, osteoarthritis are more common for women. Repetitive pressure on a certain joint, and it usually happens on athletes, and bone deformities may also cause this condition.

The symptoms of osteoarthritis may appear in many forms. Some common symptoms are pain on joints during movement, stiffness upon awakening, tenderness on a joint when light pressure is applied, loss or decrease in joint flexibility, grating sensation during movement, the emergence of bone spurs, and swelling on a certain joint.

The deterioration of the joints is not reversible. However, the symptoms are usually manageable with over-the-counter medicines and pain reliever. Also, having a healthy osteoarthritis diet plan may reduce the symptoms and avoid further deterioration of your joints. 

Does diet help reduce Osteoarthritis Symptoms?

If you encounter this article, chances are, you are trying to find the best osteoarthritis diet plan. A healthy diet plan for osteoarthritis aims to reduce inflammation on your joints, help slow down joint deterioration, and maintain a healthy body weight.

As mentioned above, osteoarthritis is caused by inflammation. Thus, you should avoid inflammatory foods in your osteoarthritis diet plan when you want to reduce osteoarthritis symptoms. Inflammatory foods may make the symptoms worse.

However, following an anti-inflammatory diet plan will slow down the deterioration of your joints.

Before moving to the next part of the article, remember that maintaining a healthy body weight may help you avoid adding extra pressure to your joints. This way, with a healthy osteoarthritis diet, maintain a healthy body weight so that you may reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Here are some of the best food for osteoarthritis that you should consider including in your diet:

1. Omega 3 fatty acid

Omega 3 fatty acid
Your anti-inflammatory diet plan must include Omega 3 fatty. These will help to reduce stiffness and improve movement when included in the osteoarthritis diet. You may get high omega 3 fatty acids from fatty fish, oils, and nuts.

Some examples of fatty fishes are mackerel, salmon, herring, sardines, and anchovies. Mackerel has the highest omega 3 fatty acid amount with 5,134 mg per 100 grams from all of the fishes above. Other omega 3 fatty acid-rich food is oyster. Oyster contains 435 mg of omega 3 fatty acid per 100 grams. It also contains high zinc content.

2. Calcium

Calcium is the number one mineral in your body and it is among the best foods for osteoarthritis. Calcium will help you maintain your bone health and maintain muscle function. You may fulfill your calcium needs mainly by consuming dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt.

Other non-dairy products that have high calcium content are chia seeds, sesame seeds, canned fish, and almonds. Some plant-based products also have high calcium content, such as spinach, kale, rhubarb, and lentils.

However, some of the products above may increase your body weight. Thus, if you are in the process of maintaining your body weight, you can choose low-fat options.

3. Healthy fats

Healthy fats are also an addition to your anti-inflammatory diet plan because these are non-fattening. You may find healthy fats in many foods like coconut oil, avocado, macadamia nuts, eggs, olive oil, peanut butter, and flaxseed oil. Flaxseed oil has the highest healthy fat content with 100g per 100g. Macadamia nuts come in second with 76g per 100g.

Aside from its benefits for being one of the best foods for osteoarthritis, healthy fats may also protect you from heart disease and manage your hunger hormones. Healthy fats will also help you distribute vitamins and minerals throughout your body. Even though it is good for your body, healthy fats should be consumed in moderation.

4. Fruits

Fruits are widely known for their antioxidant content to fight free radicals and inflammation. One fruit that is perfect for an osteoarthritis diet plan is blueberry. It is very low in calories and is full of antioxidants.

Strawberries are also part of the best food for osteoarthritis and since it is popular, finding it in stores will not be difficult. When you look for strawberries, you better pick the red ones. A recent study says red strawberries have higher anthocyanin[1] in them.

Moving from the berries family, we will now talk about cocoa. Cocoa is the main ingredient for your favorite snack, chocolate. The antioxidant content of cocoa remains high when consumed as dark chocolate.

5. Vegetables

Just like fruits, vegetables also have high antioxidant content, making them part of any type of anti-inflammatory diet plan. Vegetables are also rich in fiber. Artichoke and kale are two examples of vegetables that can help you fight osteoarthritis symptoms.

Artichoke has high antioxidant content called chlorogenic acid. This substance is not only able to fight osteoarthritis but also heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Another vegetable with high antioxidant content is kale. The antioxidant content in Kale may reach up to 2.7 mmol per 100 gr. The red variants reach almost twice antioxidant content with 4.1 mmol per 100gr. This is because they contain more anthocyanin.

6. Fiber

Foods that are high in fiber will help you in maintaining your body weight and fight inflammation. This is one of the best food for osteoarthritis if you need to cut some weight. Fiber will help you feel full quicker and longer.

For the fruit category, pears are considered the best source of fiber. Besides being tasty, pears also have 5.5gr of fiber content per 100gr. Another good fiber source from the fruit category is apples. Apples have 4.4 gr of fiber content per 100 gr.

Meanwhile, for vegetables, lentils are considered to be packed with fibers. It has 7.3gr[2] of fiber content per 100gr. This makes lentils a great food choice because besides being nutritious and high in fiber, it is also very affordable.

7. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is important in the calcium absorption process and boosts your body’s immune system. Your body can get vitamin D from the sun. But, having enough sun throughout the day is not always an option. This is why we will tell you the foods that are high in vitamin D.

Herring is one of the foods that are high in vitamin D. It is very popular as a part of an anti-inflammatory diet plan because it may be served raw, smoked, canned, or pickled. It has 216 IU per 100gr of vitamin D content. Other foods that are high in vitamin D are cod liver oil, egg yolks, and mushrooms.

Foods to avoid for osteoarthritis:

Foods to avoid for osteoarthritis
Here are some foods to avoid if you are experiencing osteoarthritis symptoms:

1. Sugar

We have previously discussed that maintaining healthy body weight is important to reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Sugar is one big factor in obesity. It may also cause inflammation[3].

A study has shown that consuming a 50gr dose of sugar may lead to a spike in c-reactive protein one of the inflammatory markers in just 30 minutes. Then, the effect will last for up to 8 hours.

Sugar may also lead to weight gain because it is high in calories. Also, foods that are high in sugar are less filling than healthy foods. These are the reasons why sugar is included in foods to avoid with osteoarthritis.

2. Saturated fat

Food that contains high saturated fat like meat has been known to cause inflammation. When consumed, saturated fat may trigger a powerful inflammatory substance called cytokines. Cytokines will aggravate joints and play a role in muscle inflammation. It will also affect your body’s immune system.

Saturated fat also plays an important role in weight gain. Many studies have shown links between saturated fats in fried foods to obesity. High saturated fat content in your body indicates that your diet is not healthy and filled with unhealthy foods. Thus, making saturated fat is also categorized in foods to avoid with Osteoarthritis.

3. Refined carbohydrates

Refined carbohydrate products are foods to avoid with osteoarthritis. These include white rice, white bread, and pasta products, especially when they are fried, which will stimulate inflammation in your body. Refined carbohydrates also have insulin resistance effects on your body.

This is why after eating refined carbohydrate products that are foods to avoid with osteoarthritis, like donuts, cereals, and french fries, you might feel increasing pain in your osteoarthritis. The pain might get worse because of the oil used in those products.
Next time, go for complex carbohydrates products. If you must eat refined carbohydrate products, choose the baked ones because they will not cause as much inflammation as the fried ones.

Final Words

Osteoarthritis Info
Osteoarthritis is very common, especially among people who experience constant pressure on their joints. The symptoms of osteoarthritis are related to pain and difficulties in joints during movement. Those symptoms are normally treatable with over the counter medications. But, a good osteoarthritis diet will help in reducing the symptoms.

A suitable diet for osteoarthritis focuses on reducing the inflammation on your joints, slowing down deterioration on joints, and avoiding weight gain. A recommended diet will include omega 3 fatty acids, calcium, healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, fiber, and vitamin D. Meanwhile, the best food for osteoarthritis are oily fish, macadamia nuts, flaxseed oil, dairy products, and avocado.

On the contrary, there are several foods to avoid with osteoarthritis to reduce its symptoms. These foods are sugar, saturated fats, and refined carbohydrates. These products should be avoided because they ignite inflammation in your joints and may lead to weight gain. Therefore, you need to find alternatives to these products to have a better diet plan for osteoarthritis.

Besides controlling the foods to avoid with osteoarthritis and managing your diet, you may also do exercise to reduce osteoarthritis symptoms. Go for low impact exercises like swimming and static cycling. Avoid activities that put excessive pressure on your joints.

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