May is Arthritis Awareness Month, a time dedicated to increasing awareness about a condition that is one of the leading causes of disability in the country.
Arthritis occurs when one or more joints becomes inflamed, resulting in pain, swelling, stiffness and difficulty moving. The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage—the hard, slippery tissue that covers the ends of bones where they form a joint—breaks down, while rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the immune system targets joint linings.
Certain risk factors can increase a person’s likelihood of developing arthritis; however, there are things you can do that may prevent some forms of the condition and ease symptoms, including monitoring what you eat.
Here are some foods that may prevent or ease arthritis symptoms:
• Fish: Fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel contains omega-3 fatty acids, which is effective in reducing inflammation, a common arthritis symptom. Eating 3 to 4 ounces of these oily fish twice a week is recommended.
• Extra virgin olive oil: This oil, as well as safflower, avocado and walnut oils, have properties similar to non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory medications
• Cherries: Studies have shown that the anthocyanins (a particular group of compounds) found in this tasty fruit reduces gout (a form of inflammatory arthritis). Anthocyanins are also found in other red and purple fruits like strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. Eating 1½ to 2 cups of fruit per day is recommended.
• Low-fat dairy products: The calcium and vitamin D found in low-fat dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese can increase your bone strength and boost your immune system.
• Broccoli: In addition to being a good source of vitamins K and calcium, this vegetable also contains sulforaphane, a compound that may help to prevent or slow the progression of osteoarthritis. If you take the blood thinning medication Coumadin® (warfarin), consult your health care provider before adding high vitamin K foods to your diet.
• Citrus fruits: Fruits such as oranges, grapefruits and limes are packed with vitamin C, which helps reduce inflammation. Talk to your pharmacist to make sure there are no interactions between your medications and grapefruit or grapefruit juice.
• Beans: These are rich in fiber, protein and various vitamins (e.g., folic acid, magnesium, iron, zine and potassium) and can boost your immune system, thus preventing some forms of arthritis.
Visit the Arthritis Foundation website for more information on foods that may help prevent or ease symptoms of arthritis. To learn about medical treatments available for arthritis, call Carroll Health Group Orthopaedics at 410-871-0088 to make an appointment with a specialist.