Inflammation reducing foods could be the missing link in your arthritis relief. Osteoarthritis pain can actually stem from low grade chronic inflammation which explains why food and movement can have such a positive impact on pain and stiffness levels. There is lots of information out there, it can be hard to weed through it all. Here are the 15 Rock-Solid ways to reduce inflammation and finally feel good!
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Eliminating inflammation is the first step towards feeling healthy and living your best life, especially with arthritis. Let’s get started.
1. Unleash the power of onions
Okay so if you don’t like onions, there is still hope! Onions are a part of a family called the Allium family. This family includes: chives, garlic, and leeks too. The Allium family packs a punch when it comes to healthy superfoods.
According to Dr. Ann Kulze, as well as the Arthritis Foundation, onions and their counterparts can help to reduce cancer risk, improve bone density, and can actually have an anti-inflammatory effect.
“One flavonoid found in onions, called quercetin, has been shown to inhibit inflammation-causing leukotrienes, prostaglandins and histamines in osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), reduce heart disease risk by lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol and help prevent the progression of cancer.”
It turns out, yellow and red onions are the best but others have varying degrees of effect. As an inflammation reducing food, this is one that you want to start including in meals if you haven’t already. You can easily do this in salads, sandwiches, vegetable stir frys, and more!
2. Treat yourself to dark chocolate
Wait, so you’re telling me dark chocolate is actually good for inflammation?!
Yes, that’s correct! If you are looking for a treat and you are dealing with arthritis pain or high levels of inflammation, dark chocolate can actually be beneficial.
“ Findings from two studies being presented today at the Experimental Biology 2018 annual meeting in San Diego show that consuming dark chocolate that has a high concentration of cacao (minimally 70% cacao, 30% organic cane sugar) has positive effects on stress levels, inflammation, mood, memory and immunity.”
As an inflammatory reducing food, dark chocolate can help to not only contribute physically to arthritis pain, it can also improve your mood! We know that high levels of stress and anxiety tend to further irritate our already overactive nervous system.
Next time you are searching for something sweet, instead of going for the ice cream or candy- grab yourself a dark chocolate bar. This is my FAVORITE brand (get 15% off with code adventurealive).
But remember…moderation 🙂
3. Get familiar with the superfoods
In a podcast interview with Dr. Ann Kulze discusses the inflammation reducing superfoods. Not shockingly these foods are those that are whole foods and don’t include any processed foods.
These foods are primarily plant-based and include foods like fruits, dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds, oily fish, and more.
You can check out the full list of the BEST anti-inflammatory foods for free below! It may be best to print this list out, keep it in the kitchen, hang it on the fridge or keep a picture on your phone that you can look at when grocery shopping.
4. Think about fish oil
Before we get into this, always make sure you consult your doctor first before starting any supplements because they can interact with certain medications.
According to Dr. Ann, there is a hierarchy of supplements when it comes to reducing inflammation and fish oil is near the top.
This one is common and usually necessary if you are not eating oily fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel etc at least 3 times per week. These foods contain long-chain omega 3 fatty acids that are hard to find in other foods.
Long chain omega-3s are some of the vital building blocks in the processes that help to reduce inflammation. But, when searching for a fish oil supplement they aren’t all created equal.
She advises “Choose high-quality fish oil supplements – look for ‘pharmaceutical grade’ or ‘molecularly distilled’ when purchasing.” You can use ConsumerLab to help you decide which ones are the highest quality.
5. Get your levels of vitamin D checked
It has been found that upwards of almost 50% of people in the US are deficient in Vitamin D.
Oftentimes, people think they get enough vitamin D from the sun but it turns out there are some things that can prevent vitamin D from getting into our bloodstream. These include things like sunscreen, clothing, obesity, diabetes, and others.
Typically done through a blood test, your doctor can very easily check your levels of vitamin D.
Vitamin D plays a crucial role in overall health such as bone density, brain health, immune function, and even inflammation reducing.
Talk to your doctor to see if your vitamin D levels are low. If they are, you could be experiencing signs and symptoms including fatigue, brain fog, inflammation, increased joint pain, among others.
A supplement of vitamin D may be appropriate if you are deficient. According to Dr. Ann, “a blood level between 40 ng/ml to 50 ng/ml is a good target range”.
According to Consumer Lab, these are approved forms of Vitamin D: Webber Naturals® Calcium Citrate Vitamin D3, Garden of Life® mykind Organics Vegan D3 2,000 IU, and Nature Made Vitamin D3.
6. Combination supplements for "Joint health" may be a waste of time
There are always new supplements hitting the market especially targeting those with arthritis and chronic pain. Popular ingredients these tend to contain are glucosamine, chondroitin, turmeric, among others.
Since supplements aren’t federally regulated, there is always a degree of skepticism of if they actually contain what they say they do.
One recommendation Dr. Ann suggests is to check with ConsumerLab. They review all kinds of different supplements for quality and publicly post the information.
These types of supplements should be in combination with inflammation reducing foods and a regular exercise routine. These should not be taken as your only defense against inflammation because they will not be effective.
These joint combinations are one of those things that if you take them for a few months and you notice a change in pain, keep taking them. If you don’t notice a change, don’t waste your time with them.
7. Turmeric is one of the most powerful inflammation reducing spices
Some take this in a capsule but Turmeric is one of the most powerful spices when it comes to tackling inflammation. This spice can work wonders for the human body because of the phytochemicals found in it.
Turmeric is not only great for arthritis and other chronic pains, it also is magical for the brain. Adding a few dashes to food can make a profound difference on inflammation. If you are not a fan of it, you can also take it in a capsule form but make sure you talk to your doctor first.
Not sure which one to get? Research from ConsumerLab shows this Turmeric brand may be a good one to start with.
Please keep in mind, supplements can be effective for some and ineffective for others. Most are relatively inexpensive so I usually recommend trying a supplement, once cleared by your doctor for 3-4 weeks to see if you notice a change.
Here is also an example of a smoothie that you can use turmeric spices in!
8. Mother nature's sugar is not bad
Fruits are some of the top inflammation reducing foods out there. Many times we demonize all types of sugar but according to Dr. Ann this sugar is one of the necessities. There are some fruits that are more beneficial than others including: apples, citrus, berries, cantaloupe, and kiwi to start.
Now processed sugars on the other hand, we should stay away from. High fructose corn syrup is one of the main culprits.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, “What’s even worse, Dr. Hyman notes, is high doses of fructose “punch little holes in your intestinal lining, causing what we call a leaky gut.” He explains that this allows foreign food proteins and bacterial proteins to enter into your bloodstream, which triggers inflammation, makes you gain weight and causes type 2 diabetes”
Natural sugars found in fruits are totally fine especially if you have arthritis. You want to try to consume at least 3-4 servings per day for optimum results.
9. Vegetables should be your friend
Vegetables can provide vitamins, nutrients, and other anti-inflammatory properties especially for those struggling with osteoarthritis. It’s no secret vegetables are good for us but they are also a part of inflammation reducing foods group.
Focusing on dark green leafy vegetables is key. Dr. Ann recommends broccoli sprouts, best ate raw. She loves adding them to salads to get her daily intake.
Ideally, we want to get at least 4-5 servings of vegetables per day. One of the recommendations is to begin slowly adding more vegetables to your meals, i.e replacing typical dinner side from noodles to broccoli. Small wins can make all of the difference.
If you want to know the other foods that are a part of the inflammation reducing foods group, download our free ebook here.
10. Understand the power that food holds
Understand that you have the power to manage your inflammation, manage your arthritis pain, and manage your weight by what you are putting in your mouth.
If you continue to be complacent with what you are putting in your body, you may not be accepting responsibility for your health.
The only way you will see positive changes in arthritic joints, overall mood, weight, and sleep quality- you have to change something. As Dr. Ann says, the greater the change you make, the greater the change you will see on the other side.
Realize that you are holding the power.
11. Inflammation reducing foods don't work alone
Food has one of the biggest impacts on our inflammation levels. What you are feeding your body up to 12-18 hours a day can make a dramatic difference on inflammation and therefore arthritis pain.
Food is only one piece of the puzzle. The interesting thing, though, is when you eat healthier, you are more likely to participate in other healthy habits. This includes regular exercise, positive self-talk, and social engagements.
One of the most important things that works in conjunction with healthy eating is healthy movement.
Movement is incredibly important to feed your cartilage, cycle out inflammation, and reduce joint stiffness. Learn more about how exercise benefits arthritic joints here.
There are some things that are out of our control but keeping these two things in line can dramatically reduce our risk for LOTS of chronic diseases.
Need a place to get started? I highly recommend this 4 day Arthritis Friendly Workout Challenge. 4 days, 4 workouts to show your joints they can actually move without pain! Learn more below:
12. There is a right type of exercise
Not all exercise is created equally, especially when dealing with arthritic joints. Exercise should not cause you significant pain if you are doing the right type of exercise.
Your arthritic joints actually crave movement. Cartilage gets its nutrients through exercise. More exercise and activity isn’t always better though. Finding a balance can help you to avoid overdoing it and flaring up your pain.
In order to continue to do these things or return to doing these things, it is important your joints are prepared.
Walking is a common form of exercise for those with arthritis and can be a great way to improve stamina.
One important thing to note though, is that your body needs variety. You have muscles that help you move sideways and backwards. These muscles don’t get challenged enough through walking in a forwards direction.
Variety is key to supporting your joints on all sides and helping you to reduce inflammation.
Take a look at the video below for a further explanation.
If you’re unsure which exercise is best for you or where you should start- the signature membership, Adventurers for Life guides you along the best step by step follow along workouts that progress in ways that are nice to arthritic joints but also help you to build strength.
So often, I find people are missing vital components of strength building and the routines they are doing may not be building as much strength as they thought.
Learn more about Adventurers for Life and how it is the key to unlocking your arthritis adventure.
13. A professional that listens to you can catapult you to success
It can be hard in the traditional medical system to find a healthcare professional that takes the time to listen to your concerns about inflammation and osteoarthritis. Unfortunately, most of the time we are told “no running, no jumping, lose weight, and exercise” and sent on our way.
The problem is, most of the time, these general guidelines don’t lead to success. There is no plan. Without a plan or accountability, adherence can be really hard!
At Keep the Adventure Alive, my mission is to not only help you find pain relief so you can just get by. Instead, you can learn how to take it a step further to be able to travel, walk up/down stairs effortlessly again, and enjoying life how you want to.
For example, running is one of the first things that is ruled out with knee osteoarthritis which can be devastating, especially to those that love it. High impact activities like jumping are a close second.
Through the proven framework inside Adventurers for Life, people with osteoarthritis have been able to get back to running, enjoy hiking again, and tackle stairs again!
So often I find people end up stuck on a path trying to figure out what they can do. This is because most of what you typically hear is what you can’t do.
My main mission is to inject positivity and optimism into your diagnosis of osteoarthritis. Your life doesn’t have to end as you know it. With the right plan, dedication, and accountability- your dreams and goals can still come true.
14. Action is key
If you don’t take action, your inflammation can become a real problem. Not only with more arthritis pain but other chronic disease such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, increased stroke risk, Alzheimer’s disease, etc.
If you are currently on a path where you find yourself in pattern of eating foods that aren’t good for you and not moving or exercising, this path can be dangerous.
In order to thrive with optimal health you need a combination of inflammation reducing foods, a regular exercise plan, and a positive mindset.
That’s where Adventurers for Life comes in. In this membership you’ll take a quiz upon entering to make sure you are starting in the best place to match your abilities and pain levels. You’ll be led along a journey of exercises, virtual events, support groups that allow you meet other members and more.
Too often I see people that wait too long to take action. The longer you wait, the deeper the hole is you have to try to climb out of. It’s time to take action today. Learn more and become an Adventurer for Life below!
15. Believe you can do this
If you firmly believe that you can change your habits, you will. If you go into diet changes or new exercise programs with the mindset “this isn’t going to work”- it won’t.
There has been so much research that you can reduce inflammation- you can change our arthritis pain. You don’t have to live in pain or in poor health just because you are 50, 60, etc.
In this society, we tend to be reactive to our health. We wait until our pain is so severe or our health is so out of control before seeking help. Instead, the most success comes to those who are proactive. Understanding how to prevent chronic disease will allow you to lead a long, healthy, adventurous life.
You can do this.
Disclaimer: This post is for general informational purposes only. It should not be used to self-diagnose and it is not a substitute for a medical exam, cure, treatment, diagnosis, and prescription or recommendation. It does not create a doctor-patient relationship between Dr. Kuhn and you. You should not make any change in your health regimen or diet before first consulting a physician and obtaining a medical exam, diagnosis, and recommendation. Move Well Age Well, LLC and Dr. Alyssa Kuhn, PT, DPT are not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any conclusions drawn, services or product you obtain through this video or site.