If you are one of the 30 million in the U.S. who suffer from OA, or osteoarthritis, you probably spend a fair amount of time looking for ways to help reduce your joint pain and stiffness.  Of course, a well-rounded exercise program that includes specific stretching and strengthening exercises can go a long way to help increase your mobility and improve function.  You might be surprised to learn, however, that you can find some healthy solutions in your cupboard as well.  In this post, we will outline some healthy dietary tips that may be able to help you with your achy joints by introducing inflammation-fighting foods into your diet.

The Vicious Cycle of Low Nutritional Value Food

The human body requires a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, along with key components such as quality proteins and healthy fats in order to function most effectively.  In many cases, however, people rely on foods that offer little in the way of good nutritional value, thereby depriving their body of the fundamental building blocks it needs.  For those with diets that rely heavily on refined carbohydrates such as crackers, potato chips, and white bread, along with a continual dose of sugar found in most beverages, snacks, and candies, it means their body is receiving little in the way of proper nutritional support.  In fact, many seemingly innocuous foods like tomato sauce, canned beans, fruit juices, and condiments such as ketchup and relish, might not “seem that bad”, but looking at the label shows that sugar lurks within their ingredients.

Without a conscious effort and continual diligence to maintain a healthy diet, many people continue with the cycle of trying to feed their hunger with low nutritional value foods.  Their body is not getting what it truly needs to function well, so it calls out for more food, leading individuals to reach for the first available food, thus continuing the cycle.  Is it any wonder then that many Americans struggle with obesity, thus putting even more stress and pressure on their joints?

How to Break the Cycle

Feeding your body what it truly needs can help break the cycle of hunger, poor food choices, weight gain, followed by increasingly achy joints.  To start, read the labels of all the foods you are putting in your body.  Pay particular attention to any added sugar, along with high levels of carbohydrates and/or saturated fat.  You might be surprised at some of the “healthy” foods you were eating are loaded with things that offer little in the way of properly fueling your body.  Focus on eating unprocessed, whole foods such as avocado or broccoli from the produce area, and use spices or a little garlic to add taste appeal.  If you aren’t sure what spices will make your food taste good, read the labels of some spice mixes.  If they don’t add any salt, then buy the mix.  Otherwise, make note of the spices they include in their mix and buy them individually.  Then make your own spice mix without salt.

Supporting Joints Through Diet

Foods that offer inflammation dampening properties are of high value for osteoarthritis sufferers.  Bone health is also important for individuals with OA, so a diet high in Vitamin D and calcium sources such as quality dairy choices is desirable as well.  This includes no or low-fat cottage cheese and Greek yogurts, along with reduced or no fat cheeses and milk, all of which will help provide sufficient amounts of calcium and Vitamin D.  Dark, leafy greens such as broccoli, chard, kale, collard greens, and spinach can help provide joints with important nutrients such as Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin D and Vitamin A.  All of these foods have wonderful inflammation reducing properties.

In addition, try to reduce the amount of red meat in your diet which is loaded with saturated fat.  Instead, focus more on including oily fish choices such as tuna, mackerel, salmon and sardines.  If you just cannot bring yourself to try fish, then at least supplement your diet with krill or fish oil pills or flaxseed oil.  For snacks, reach for nuts instead of crackers.  They are loaded with nutrients and will actually feed your body, making it less likely you will continue to crave more food.  Green tea is a great choice for a beverage.  Instead of adding sugar for sweetness, add a little stevia instead.

Summary

By focusing on foods that can potentially reduce arthritis inflammation, you may find your cravings are reduced because you are finally feeding your body what it needs.  In turn, you may find yourself losing some weight thus reducing stress on your joints.  By searching online for “inflammation reducing recipes” or “foods for osteoarthritis”, you can open yourself up to an entirely new way of eating that is healthy and delicious.  If you’d like to know more about reducing OA inflammation through food, please email Cawley Physical Therapy & Rehab at cawleyptfrank@gmail.com or call 570-208-2787.

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