While medication is sometimes a must for people with joint pain, doctors at Baylor College of Medicine say some may find additional relief in the kitchen. dr. Shalini Jhaassistant professor of medicine – immunology, allergy and rheumatology, says certain diet changes have been shown to help reduce inflammation, but the right recipe might be slightly different for each person.
“Some studies show that a vegan, Mediterranean or vegetarian diet helps relieve joint pain. Doctors can examine markers of inflammation and determine if joints are inflamed before and after diet changes. There have been good results showing that what you eat definitely plays a role in this process,” Jha said. “However, there is no one-size-fits-all diet.”
Jha says it depends on the type of joint pain and the cause. Some pain can be caused by mechanical problems, injury, or overuse. In these cases, what you eat probably won’t help. For those with an autoimmune problem like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, what you eat is important.
“For autoimmune diseases, there is a direct link between food and your body. What you eat affects the microbes in your gut, and the microbiome plays an important role in the immune system by helping to calm or speed up inflammation,” Jha said. “While not all of these diet changes work for people with joint pain, a good rule of thumb when it comes to modifying your diet to deal with inflammation. inflammation is to focus on general health.”
Jha recommends eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and beans and drinking plenty of water. She also recommends focusing on foods that contain high amounts of antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin C. These types of molecules have been shown to calm the oxidative stress that your body experiences during a ‘inflammation.
When it comes to foods that have been shown to trigger an inflammatory cascade throughout the body, Jha says to try to avoid or limit processed carbs, sugar, saturated fat, dairy and red meat. .
“These are diet changes that are also helpful for overall health, but remember to always talk to your doctor about treating joint pain. Some problems require medication or other therapies. Diet alone may not solve the problem and, in fact, overuse of the joint, regardless of diet, could actually cause longer term damage. Uncontrolled inflammation in the body could also damage other organs in some cases,” Jha said.
When you start a new diet, Jha says to pay attention to what you eat and how your body reacts. Some people find that certain healthy foods can actually trigger inflammation. Some patients have found that oranges or other acidic fruits and vegetables can trigger arthritis flare-ups.
“Some people try elimination diets, where you remove certain foods from your diet for a few days or weeks and slowly reintroduce them to see if it’s a trigger,” Jha said. “Some find gluten or even eggs to be a trigger while others are unaffected.”
Jha reminds her patients that the goal is to reduce pain and inflammation, but also to focus on quality of life. Some people aren’t willing to give up certain foods completely, so she suggests moderation, adding plenty of vegetables and fruits to your current diet and watching how your body reacts to certain foods.
By Graciela Gutierrez