Diet, Arthritis and Joint Pain**
If you suffer from joint pain, it's important that you learn all you can about arthritis and joint pain so you can work effectively with your health professional to manage the problem. One of the key concepts to master is proper nutrition: consuming a low-fat diet filled with foods together with supplements that decrease inflammation while supporting joint, cartilage, muscle and bone health.
A good diet can have significant and positive effects on joint pain in several ways. For example:
- For women of normal height, losing as few as 11 pounds can cut the risk of developing knee osteoarthritis by 50 percent.1 On the other hand, if you already have knee arthritis, being just 10 pounds overweight increases the force on your knees by 30 to 60 pounds with each step. (Pick up a 60 pound weight and imagine what that must feel like on your joints!) Slimming down to your ideal weight can help reduce symptoms, especially joint pain.
- Reducing your intake of certain foods may decrease general inflammation.
- Increasing your intake of other foods and nutrients can also help reduce inflammation.
- Getting ample amounts of calcium and other nutrients helps support bone growth and lessens the risk of fracture.
- Maintaining a healthy mix of proteins and carbohydrates, while consuming ample amounts of omega 3 oils (fish oil), aids in muscle growth and joint support. More on Omega 3 and Joint and Arthritis Health.
There are no specific foods that cause or cure arthritis, but certain foods may increase inflammation, which is involved in several forms of arthritis, while others may trigger arthritis symptoms in those who already have the disease. These foods include Nightshade Vegetables* (tomatoes, potatoes, bell peppers, eggplant, etc.), dairy products, sugar, salt, red meat, food additives and preservatives. Other foods thought to increase inflammation include cereal grains, omega-6 fatty acids and decaffeinated coffee.
Being overweight puts extra stress on the joints, which increases the risk of wear-and-tear and cartilage damage. And because the pressure in the joints of the lower body is magnified by the force of impact when you're moving about, every pound of weight you lose equates to a decrease in pressure of 3 to 6 pounds on your knees. In fact, losing as few as 11 pounds may cut your risk of developing knee osteoarthritis by 50 percent! In addition, losing weight can also reduce general inflammation in your body.2
The key to losing excess weight is permanently adopting healthy habits such as getting enough sleep every night, performing low-impact exercises daily, and consistently choosing nutrient-rich foods and supplements that help you maintain a healthy weight and fight inflammation.
The importance of achieving a healthy weight can't be overestimated: according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) if your BMI remains above the healthy range you are up to four times more likely to develop knee osteoarthritis than a normal-weight adult.
Inflammation is a localized reaction in the body to irritation, injury or infection. Symptoms of inflammation include pain, swelling, red coloration and warmth in the area, and sometimes a loss of movement or function. Since arthritis is often a disease of inflammation, a healthful diet should exclude inflammation-producing foods and include anti-inflammatory foods.
A number of foods may promote or increase inflammation. These include:
- Junk Food/Fast Food. Cookies, candy, pies, French fries, hamburgers and other junk foods often have trans fats, saturated fats and other substances that may encourage inflammation within the body
- Processed meats. Luncheon meat, hot dogs, sausages and other processed foods contain chemicals such as nitrites that are associated with increased inflammation and chronic disease.
- Saturated fats. These are found naturally in meats, full-fat dairy products, eggs and other animal-based foods, as well as in junk food and fast food. While animal-based foods can be important sources of nutrients, most people don't need the extra saturated fat. High-fat cuts of meat and full-fat dairy products also a contain fatty acid called arachidonic acid. While some arachidonic acid is essential for health, too much may increase inflammation.
- Diets high in sugar. High-sugar diets have been associated with inflammation, obesity and chronic diseases such as diabetes. Eliminate high-sugar foods such as sugared sodas, soft drinks, pastries, pre-sweetened cereals, candy and sauces.
Foods that can trigger arthritis or joint pain:
|Alcohol||Soft drinks||Refined cereal grains||Dry-roasted nuts like almonds||Tea|
|Foods containing caffeine||Red meat such as beef, lamb and pork.||Snack chips, crackers and cookies||Wax-covered fruit and citrus fruit||Large amounts of butter and margarine|
|Coffee (regular and decaffeinated)||Sugar and foods containing sugar||Nightshade Family, such as tomatoes, white potatoes, eggplant, red peppers.||Breads, pastries and other products made from refined flour||Salt, pepper and vinegar|
|Cocoa||Dairy products such as cow's milk, cheese and yogurt||Tobacco|
Uric acid is a special problem for people predisposed to gout. If blood levels of uric acid rise too high, they may suffer an attack. Foods that can trigger gout:
|All meats (including organ meats)||Roasted nuts||Sardines||Herring||Food made from or containing refined white flour|
If you're having difficulty determining which foods trigger your symptoms, try eating a bland diet consisting of a small number of foods for a week or two, then adding foods back in to your diet, one at a time, and monitoring your symptoms. If you get a reaction, you'll know which food caused it.
"Nightshade" is the name used to describe over 2,000 kinds of plants that contain certain alkaloids with the potential to increase inflammation and impair joint function.
Nightshade vegetables contain an alkaloid called solanine, which seems to have a negative effect on the calcium balance in the body. Norman F. Childers, a former professor of Horticulture at Rutgers University in New Jersey and author of the book The Nightshades and Health, was an arthritis sufferer who noticed increased joint pain and stiffness after consuming tomatoes. After Childers eliminated all nightshade vegetables from his diet he found that his arthritis pain was eliminated. Childers concluded that, "Regular consumption of tomatoes, potatoes and eggplant is a primary cause of arthritis." Childers suggested avoiding nightshade vegetables for a month to see if arthritis symptoms subside.
Researchers have also looked at whether nightshade alkaloids contribute to loss of calcium from bone and excessive depositing of calcium in soft tissue. For this reason, these researchers have recommended elimination of nightshade foods from the meal plans of all individuals with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or other joint problems like gout.
Nightshade Foods and Spices:
||Tomatoes||Sweet potato||Sweet and hot peppers||Cayenne|
While foods cannot eliminate arthritis, they may help reduce the inflammation process. For this reason you should consider adopting a diet rich in low-fat, high-antioxidant foods and beverages, plus foods and supplements containing omega-3 fatty fish oil acids (such as salmon, mackerel and sardines).
A number of foods and nutrients have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, including:
- Green tea. We prefer the Matcha Green Tea for its anti-oxidant properties (measured by its ORAC value), as well as its anti-inflammatory effects. Gram for gram, one glass of matcha is generally equivalent to 3 or more glasses of normal green tea in terms of EGCG content (EGCG is one of the key "active ingredients" in green tea).3 More on Green Tea and Joint Health
- Omega 3. The omega 3 fatty acids known as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) are found in fish oil and fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines. Plant sources of EPA and DHA include walnuts, flaxseed oil, ground flaxseed, breads and breakfast cereals containing flaxseed. Experts recommend using flaxseed oil (or olive oil) when cooking, instead of vegetable oil or butter, to avoid aggravating inflammation. Experts are also discovering the positive effect that supplementation with omega 3 can have on arthritis and joint pain. More on Omega 3 and Joint Health
- Pomegranate. According to a study published in the Journal of Inflammation, pomegranate extract can reduce the levels of inflammation markers.4
- Spices. Certain spices seem to have anti-inflammatory properties: among the most promising are ginger and turmeric. Ginger contains chemicals that work much like certain anti-inflammatory medications, and a study conducted by researchers from the University of Arizona found that ginger extracts had a "significant joint-protective" in an animal model of rheumatoid arthritis.5 Turmeric is an ancient spice, long used in traditional Asian medicine. A 2006 study published in Arthritis and Rheumatism found that turmeric extract reduced joint inflammation and destruction in animal studies of rheumatoid arthritis.6
- Tart Cherry. Recent research presented in the Journal of Natural Products suggests that drinking a daily glass of tart cherry juice may help defuse arthritis pain. Researchers from Michigan State University found that anthocyanins, the same chemicals that give tart cherries their color, may have more powerful anti-inflammatory effects than aspirin.7
- Vitamin C. Inflammation spurs the production of free radicals, unstable molecules that can damage cells and tissues in the joints and elsewhere. Antioxidants such as vitamin C, selenium and the carotenes help protect the body from the effects of free radicals. In particular, vitamin C preserves collagen, a major component of cartilage.
- Fruits and Vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are a key part of a healthy diet. However, you may want to avoid those that can promote the inflammation response, including those belonging to the family known as Nightshade's (such as potato, tomato and eggplant). On the positive side, Cherie Calbom, M.S., a certified nutritionist and co-author of Juicing for Life, notes that parsley, broccoli, carrots, spinach, apples and ginger root can be helpful in treating arthritis symptoms. She also recommends drinking pineapple juice, since it is the only source of the strong anti-inflammatory enzyme bromelain.8 Other juices said to help include bilberry, celery juice, green barley juice, aloe vera juice, and boswellia extract.
Antioxidants are substances that prevent or slow free radical damage to the body.
When body cells use oxygen, they naturally produce unstable molecules known as free radicals that can damage cells and tissues. Indeed, some experts feel that free radicals are involved in a host of diseases, from arthritis to cardiovascular disease to cancer.
Antioxidants act as free radical scavengers, "de-activating" these dangerous substances before they cause more damage. Many foods contain antioxidants, and these antioxidants contribute to the foods' health-enhancing properties. Indeed, a study conducted by researchers from London found that five servings of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables a day reduced the risk of stroke by 25 percent.9 Antioxidants may also enhance immune defense, reduce inflammation and lower the risk of cancer and infection.
Fruits and vegetables that contain antioxidants include carrots, squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, kale, collards and other dark leafy greens. Other antioxidant-containing foods include:
|Citrus fruits such as oranges and limes||Green, red and yellow bell peppers||Strawberries and other berries, pomegranates and cherries||Brocolli||Kale & Spinach|
Research shows that a diet rich in the antioxidant vitamins C and E may reduce the inflammation of osteoarthritis and slow the progression of certain diseases.
Foods high in vitamin C include:
|Black currants||Blueberries||Citrus Fruits||Guava||Kiwi Fruit|
Foods high in vitamin E include:
JoMo contains Superfruit antioxidants, black cherry and pomegranate for inflammation support and overall health in an advanced strength joint relief formulation. In addition, it has the one of highest concentrations of glucosamine and chondroitin available in liquid form, is 100% natural and contains no added sugar or artificial colors or flavors.
Scientific research in both Asia and the West is providing hard evidence supporting the idea that green tea is good for your health. For example, in 1994 the Journal of the National Cancer Institute published a study indicating that drinking green tea reduced the risk of esophageal cancer by nearly sixty percent in Chinese men and women who neither smoked nor drank alcohol.10 And researchers from the University of Purdue found that a compound in green tea inhibits the growth of cancer cells. There is also research indicating that drinking green tea lowers total cholesterol levels, and improves the ratio of good (HDL) cholesterol to bad (LDL) cholesterol.11
The secret to green tea is the fact that it's rich in catechin polyphenols, particularly epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). This powerful antioxidant inhibits the growth of new cancer cells and kills existing cancer cells without harming healthy tissue. It is also lowers bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and inhibits the abnormal formation of blood clots.
Drinking antioxidant-rich green tea is reputed to be a helpful adjunct to treatment in many medical conditions, including:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Elevated cholesterol levels
- Cardiovascular disease
- Infection and impaired immune function
The omega 3 fatty acids known as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) are found in fish oil and fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines. Plant sources of EPA and DHA include walnuts, flaxseed oil, ground flaxseed, breads and breakfast cereals containing flaxseed. Experts recommend using flaxseed oil (or olive oil) when cooking, instead of vegetable oil or butter, to avoid aggravating inflammation. More and more evidence is also developing on the positive effect of omega 3 on joint and arthritis pain as well as overall health. More on Omega 3 and Joint Health
Many people are aware of the fact that olive oil can help control cholesterol levels and may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, but most don't realize that it may also be beneficial for those with arthritis.
Studies have shown that diets containing olive oil seem to have protective effects against certain forms of arthritis, and when olive oil is combined with fish oil, it relieves symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.12
Researchers have not determined exactly how olive oil guards the joints. Until they do, you can think of a joint as being like a creaking hinge. When you lubricate the problem area, it glides easily and without grating. Some health experts recommend consuming at least a tablespoon of olive oil each day to improve overall health.
Getting all the healthy nutrients into your daily diet can be difficult if you eat out a lot or rely on packaged and/or processed foods at home. As a general rule, you'll do better by eating at home often and consuming mostly fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and modest amounts of lean meat, fish, nuts and seeds. Eat your foods as close to their natural state as possible, with few preservatives or other additives. Here are a few menus and recipes to get you started.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Research shows that people who skip breakfast are 5 times more likely to be obese.
One cup of whole grain oatmeal with a tablespoon of chopped almonds and a sprinkle of powdered ginger.
Tropical chopped fruit salad with a cup of plain yogurt and papaya and/or pineapple.
Pineapple or other fruit juice, or JoMo Antioxidant Smoothie
One dose of JoMo Joint Mobility Liquid Glucosamine. [LOGO]
Omega 3 fatty oil supplement
Glass of green tea
2 egg-white omelet with sautéed spinach
Bowl of mixed berries, including blueberries and strawberries.
Glass of fruit juice (pineapple or cherry) or JoMo Antioxidant Smoothie
Glass of green tea.
One dose of JoMo Joint Mobility Liquid Glucosamine. [LOGO]
JoMo Antioxidant Smoothie
Lunch and Dinner Options
Grilled salmon salad, including baby spinach, carrots, low-calorie dressing and steamed asparagus, broccoli and winter squash.
Glass of pomegranate or vegetable juice.
Tuna fish sandwich on flaxseed bread, with low-fat mayonnaise, lettuce, onions and a sprinkle of turmeric.
Choice of vegetable juice based on recommended (non-nightshade) vegetables.
Two sushi rolls made from salmon and blue fin tuna with lots of ginger on the side.
Small side salad with leafy greens.
Glass of green tea or pomegranate juice.
Grilled shrimp salad with one cup sliced cucumber, a cup of fresh salsa, two slices avocado and a cup mixed beans. Toss with olive oil and spinach leaves.
You can drink as much green tea as you like all day, as well as "non Nightshade" vegetable juices and other juices such as black cherry and pomegranate.
Shellfish, anchovies and sardines are also rich in omega 3 fatty oils and should be a regular, if modest, part of a healthy diet (unless you have a shellfish allergy)!
Remember: never skip meals, especially when you are on a weight management program. "Graze" by eating small meals throughout the day to manage your caloric intake and maintain a healthy weight.
This is without a doubt one of the best antioxidant smoothies you can make. It requires a little bit of preparation the night before but it's worth it!
The night before:
Make a batch of green tea - enough to half fill a blender. About the equivilant of six tea bags. (Don't use matcha; it's too expensive. Instead, use an organic green tea base)
In the morning, combine:
- The green tea
- Half a cup of organic frozen blueberries
- A tablespoon of omega-3 fatty acid oil
- Half a serving of vanilla or blueberry soy yogurt
- A serving of protein powder (we like chocolate protein powder!)
- Half a banana
- Some mango or other berries (frozen) if available
Blend together and drink throughout the morning at your leisure!
We promise you won't be able to taste the omega 3 fatty acids in the smoothie. You can also add your daily dose of JoMo to the smoothie and get all your antioxidants at once!
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Individual results vary.
**As with any program of diet, exercise, weight loss or therapy, consult your medical practitioner, especially if you have a history of heart disease or other conditions.