Inflammation is a root problem in arthritis, and it is often directly responsible for joint pain and tissue damage. Your food choices can either increase or decrease inflammation.
The first rule is to avoid refinanced, processed, and manufactured foods, most of which contain pro-inflammatory fats, carbohydrates, and additives. For example, Omega six fatty acids intensify inflammation, and most people eat too much of them. A major source is refined soybean oil, a cheap ingredient in many processed foods such as cookies, crackers, and snacks. Another culprit is high fructose corn syrup, the ubiquitous sweetener. It is a quickly digested carbohydrate that disturbs metabolism in many people and favors production of inflammation – promoting substances in the body.
When preparing your food, use good-quality extra-virgin olive oil. Its unique antioxidant polyphenol content helps protect all tissues from inflammatory damage. Be sure also to increase consumption of anti-inflammatory Omega three fatty acids by eating oily fish such as sockeye salmon, sardines, and herring at least three times a week.
Learn to distinguish good carbs from bad carbs by understanding glycemic load, the measure of how carbohydrate foods affect blood sugar. Minimizing spikes in blood sugar by reducing glycemic load of meals helps contain inflammation. Replace high glycemic load foods, such as those made with flour and sugar, with foods that have lower glycemic loads, such as whole or cracked grains, sweet potatoes, winter squashes, and beans. Moderate portions of pasta cooked el dente are better than most slices and potatoes.
Reduce consumption of animal protein, especially red meat and chicken, which contain a pro-inflammatory amino acid. Instead, eat more vegetable proteins such as beans and soy foods.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables that cover the color spectrum. The pigments in these foods have protective effects. Try to find ways to consume ginger and turmeric in any form. Both spices have powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Two tips: add a teaspoon of powdered turmeric to soups, stews, and other dishes, and eat candied ginger with bits of dark chocolate (also rich in antioxidants) when you want a sweet treat. And try to include in your diet good quality tea, especially white, green or oolong, another source of anti-inflammatory compounds. Small changes in your diet are just one more component of treating arthritis pain.