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Arthritis Relief? Go for the Gut

Exercise and Nutrition
Author name: Lee Health

Every bite we take affects us in some way, but did you know that the cheeseburger you had for lunch might actually make your knee hurt?

That punch in the stomach is true, according to experts: Diet has a huge impact on your joint and arthritis pain and may cause or contribute to rheumatoid arthritis, according to the Arthritis Foundation.

“We need to understand that inflammation starts in the gut,” says Sebastian Klisiewicz, D.O., a physiatrist on the Lee Health medical staff. “Every bite we take can either increase or decrease inflammation.”

Recent studies confirm that people whose diet is high in antioxidants, fruits, vegetables, healthy proteins, and fats tend to have:

  • less pain 
  • less stiffness 
  • less progression of degenerative diseases

The Arthritis Foundation suggests you try the following foods to ease your difficult joint and arthritis pain:

Fish: This great substitute for salty red meat has omega-3 fatty acids, which help with inflammation at a cellular level – that means fish can actually stop inflammation before it starts. The AF says fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel are best, two to four times a week.

Nuts and seeds: It’s so easy – and often fun – simply to reach for a snack while watching the game or hanging out with friends. But instead of potato chips, grab a handful of magnesium-rich nuts and seeds such as walnuts, peanuts, almonds, pistachios, and chia seeds. Nuts and seeds have plenty of fiber, too.

Extra virgin olive oil: The Olive Oil Times and Science Direct report that EVOO has more than 36 phenolic compounds, many of which have the same effect in the body as ibuprofen.

Cherries: Another great snack substitute for salty pretzels and potato chips is anything berry related. Cherries have something called anthocyanins -- which are also found in strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries – which give them their vibrant red color and may relieve joint pain and lower the risk of gout attacks.

Vegetables: No surprise that vegetables – the more colorful the better – have nutrients and antioxidents that help your body fight cell damage and lower inflammation. Experts stress to go for the rainbow and try dark green veggies, orange carrots and sweet potatoes, olives, and garlic.

And, finally—although it isn’t a food, you should never forget about the potent, healing power of water to help lubricate those joints. Stay hydrated with plenty of water throughout your day. You can also try some tea: The Arthritis Foundation reports high polyphenol levels in green and white tea, which can help preserve cartilage and bone.

To learn more about arthritis and Lee Health’s orthopedic services, visit our new and improved Orthopedics page.

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