The Link Between Nutrition and Arthritis Pain

While there’s no magic bullet when it comes to the perfect diet for arthritis, there are aspects of nutrition that can both ease arthritis inflammation and contribute to it. Arthritis affects more than 54 million adults in the United States. Characterized by joint inflammation, arthritis commonly causes pain and limits mobility.

Successfully treating arthritis involves a multifaceted approach that takes various factors into consideration. Nutrition is an often overlooked aspect of managing arthritis pain. In this blog, Samuel I. Fink, MD, and his team discuss ways you can use nutrition to combat arthritis pain and improve joint function.

Understanding arthritis

There are more than 100 types of arthritis, and while they may have different causes and treatment approaches, joint inflammation is the prevailing characteristic. The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is a form of wear-and-tear arthritis that causes joint deterioration. With rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system attacks joints, causing them to break down. Arthritis causes joint swelling, inflammation, tenderness, pain, and stiffness.

Reducing inflammation eases arthritis symptoms. At his Tarzana, California practice, Dr. Fink helps patients with various types of arthritis get arthritis pain under control. His comprehensive approach may include exercise, physical therapy, medication, and other modalities to reduce inflammation so your joints feel and function better. Along with these treatment approaches, changes in diet may help soothe inflamed joints.

Anti-inflammatory foods for arthritis

Compared to a typical diet, an anti-inflammatory diet can help ease arthritis pain and improve quality of life in people with arthritis. Foods rich in antioxidants have a potent impact on inflammation. For this reason, an anti-inflammatory diet revolves around eating plenty of antioxidant-rich foods while limiting foods that promote inflammation. The following are key foods that can ease arthritis pain.


The average American adult fails to eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. Fruits that are particularly beneficial for arthritis pain are:

Whole grains

Some diets promoted for arthritis limit whole grains. This is because whole grains contain a type of protein theorized to trigger inflammation. However, strong evidence to support this theory is lacking. In fact, whole grains are rich selenium, a mineral and antioxidant found to be low in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Research published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition lists whole grains as foods proven to relieve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.

Whole grains that may ease arthritis include oats, wheat, bulgur, barley, amaranth, quinoa, brown rice, and millet.

Fish oil

Fatty fish provide essential omega-3 fatty acids that, among other things, combat inflammation. Fish oil is rich in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Both fatty acids reduce inflammation, and now research reveals the underlying mechanism.

A study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation Research found that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation by increasing blood levels of anti-inflammatory molecules called specialized pro-resolving mediators (SPMs). The role of SPMs is to put a stop to inflammation. Incorporating fatty fish into your diet may help ease arthritis pain.

Saturated fats and inflammation

As important as it is to include inflammation-fighting foods in your diet, it is equally important to limit foods that contribute to inflammation. There is a link between inflammation and saturated fat, especially those found in meat and full-fat dairy.

Pizza, cheese, and processed meat are major sources of saturated fat in the typical diet. Avoiding these foods in favor of healthier, nutrient-dense foods may help sooth joint inflammation and arthritis pain.

Learning strategies to better manage your arthritis can improve your quality of life. It is possible to live well with arthritis. If you’re struggling with arthritis pain, we can help. Contact our office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Fink, or request one online.

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