Millions of women deal with chronic or sporadic joint pain, and if you’re one of them, you know how uncomfortable it can be. Whether it’s the result of arthritis, an injury, or overextending yourself at work or the gym, it can make even the most simple tasks uncomfortable. Depending on the severity of your pain, over-the-counter drugs, prescription medicine, physical therapy and surgery are all options for getting some relief.
Another is incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into your diet. According to the Arthritis Foundation, “a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts and beans but low in processed foods and saturated fat,” is ideal for managing joint pain. You may recognize these foods as part of the Mediterranean Diet, which many experts recommend for its myriad of benefits to one’s overall health. If you’re dealing with joint pain, consider adding one or more of the foods below to your plate.
Foods such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale and turnips are all considered members of the Brassica family and have certain antioxidants that help reduce joint pain Michelle Routhenstein, MS, RD, CDE, Cardiology Dietitian, and owner of EntirelyNourished tells SheKnows. “Brussel sprouts, Swiss chard and cooked kale are also rich in vitamin K, which helps reduce joint pain since vitamin K-dependent proteins are present in joint tissues,” she adds. “If you’re deficient in this vital nutrient, it could lead to worsening joint pain.” These foods, but broccoli in particular, are also proven to help fight osteoarthritis due to a compound called sulforaphane, which slows down the destruction of cartilage in joints.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Fish oil and cod liver oil both contain high levels of two omega-3 fatty acids: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which reduces inflammation in the joint and connective tissue, and also assists with reducing the ratio of pro-inflammatory omega-6 compounds that are oftentimes a culprit with joint pain. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in cold-water fish such as salmon and nuts or seeds, which means you can easily snack on Omega-3–rich foods. Plus, with omega-3, you can even take care of other parts of your body as it’s also great for your heart and skin.
Fruit is loaded in fiber and antioxidants that fight inflammation and disease in the body. They also contain tons of vitamins, minerals and fiber that helps feed our healthy gut bacteria, keep our blood sugar levels balanced, balance hormones, help with regularity and promote heart health Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN, and founder of Real Nutrition NYC tells SheKnows. Fruits you’ll want to keep an eye out for include blackberries, plums, apples, papaya, pineapple and especially blueberries and purple grapes because they contain an antioxidant called anthocyanin, which prevents inflammation in the body and joints.
Lentils and Beans
Because protein in red and animal meat can lead to inflammation, lentils, beans and legumes are a great vegan and vegetarian alternative that provide fiber, protein and contain anthocyanin, the powerful phytonutrient that decreases inflammation in joints, Shapiro says. However, she does warn against eating too many beans and legumes as they can cause gastrointestinal distress.
Last but not least, spices such as garlic, ginger and turmeric also help reduce inflammation and may even prevent cartilage damage from arthritis, which is a common cause of joint pain, due to the enzyme diallyl disulphine. Tip: Opt for fresh garlic from the produce section. Preservatives may be added to bottled garlic, which may decrease some of its strength, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
What Else Helps Ease Joint Pain?
In addition to incorporating these foods into your diet, there are a lot of other lifestyle adjustments you can make to help ease joint pain according to Dr. Nilanjana Bose, a rheumatologist in Houston, Texas. “I recommend patients try to reduce or cut out red meat, carbohydrates, sugars and processed food and increase their water intake. For more motivated patients, a vegetarian or vegan diet may be good as well,” she notes. “These diets can help reduce overall inflammation, total calorie intake and result in weight loss and reduced strain on joints. I also recommend use of supplements, regular low-impact aerobic exercises, stress management techniques — deep breathing, meditation, yoga — and physical or aquatic therapy.”
Collagen peptides or collagen from bone broth may also help decrease joint pain and possibly increase joint function in those with arthritis. Tea is also proven to help provide relief. “Green tea contains many antioxidants that decrease inflammation in joints,” Shapiro says. “Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is a powerful one that blocks the destruction of joints.”