Ever feel achy after eating fried foods? Or your joints feel a little stiffer after that fast food run the day before?
What you eat matters, particularly if you are prone to joint inflammation. Knowing which foods help your joints and which should be avoided are essential to maintaining a healthy, functioning body— and relieving your joint pain.
While medical treatments are important, the evidence is piling up that adopting an anti-inflammatory diet helps reduce inflammation-related ailments. Adjusting your diet isn’t a cure-all; however, choosing anti-inflammatory foods may lessen the number of flare-ups you experience. Additionally, an anti-inflammatory diet greatly reduces (and often prevents) chronic joint inflammation— a key risk factor in a number of health conditions, including arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and irritable bowel syndrome, to name just a few.
It’s easier than ever to fall into a pattern of unhealthy eating and other harmful lifestyle factors like stress, a lack of exercise, and “screen fatigue,” caused by too much electronic screen time. The end result is chronic inflammation, which happens when the immune system releases chemicals that were meant to fight off injury and infections. The problem— there actually are no injury or infections to fight off — and so the body attacks itself.
But there’s good news: you have more power than you may think. The food choices you make absolutely influence how much fluid your body retains and the resulting inflammation in your joints.
What should you eat and what should you avoid? Read on to find out.
Foods to Eat on an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Just what does a typical anti-inflammatory diet include? Research suggests that people with a high intake of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, healthy oils, and fish may have a reduced risk for inflammation-related diseases as the substances found in these foods (particularly foods rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids) possess anti-inflammatory effects.
Foods high in antioxidants:
- Berries (including blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries)
- Dark green leafy vegetables (like kale or spinach)
- Sweet potatoes
- Nuts (such as walnuts, almonds, and pecans)
- Red beans, pinto beans, and black beans
- Whole grains (like oats and brown rice)
- Dark chocolate that’s at least 70% cacao
Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids:
- Oily fish (such as salmon, herring, mackerel, and sardines)
- Omega-3-fortified foods (including eggs and milk)
There’s also evidence that certain herbs and spices, such as ginger, turmeric, and garlic, can help alleviate joint inflammation, too.
Foods to Eat in Moderation
On the opposite end of the dietary spectrum, omega-6 fatty acids increase the body’s production of inflammatory chemicals. But, since omega-6 fatty acids help maintain bone health, regulate metabolism and promote brain function, it’s not advisable to remove them from your diet completely. Rather, watch your intake and balance them with omega-3 fatty acids.
Foods high in omega-6 fatty acids:
- Dairy products
- Vegetable oils
Which Foods Should You Avoid?
For those of you with a sweet tooth, we have some bad news. Studies show that a high intake of high-glycemic index foods like sugar and refined grains, such as those found in white bread and many processed foods, may contribute to inflammation. To improve your overall health and the effects of inflammation, avoid sugary drinks, refined carbohydrates, desserts, and processed snack foods.
How Chiropractic Care Helps Inflammation
While your diet can treat the root cause of your inflammation, chiropractic care treats and corrects the effects. The goal of chiropractic medicine is to support and enhance the nervous system, the control center of your body and a major contributor to your immune system’s productivity.
Although every patient is different, your chiropractic treatment will likely include an examination of your spine for any misaligned vertebrae (subluxations). These subluxations can cause nerve pressure, causing blockage that backs up the flow of important nutrients throughout the body. With a simple spinal adjustment — the application of gentle pressure to key parts of the body — normal biomechanics often return to the body, which greatly reduces inflammation.
Other chemicals in the body called “cytokines” have also been known to cause inflammation. Over time, a buildup of cytokines can cause discomfort. A recent study conducted at the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College showed that regular chiropractic adjustments may help reduce your body’s production of cytokines.
The Bottom Line
Adopting a healthy diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods and omega-3 fatty acids combined with chiropractic treatment will provide the best results and maximum relief to your discomfort.