How to Treat Arthritis Pain Through Your Diet

by Dr. David Williams
Filed Under: Arthritis, Bone & Joint Health
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

The best and worst foods for keeping joints healthy and treating arthritis naturally

Along with regular exercise and targeted nutritional support, there are simple changes that you can make to your diet to help treat arthritis and relieve arthritic pain naturally.

Foods/Beverages to Emphasize

Begin by adding foods rich in sulfur to your grocery cart. Sulfur is an essential (albeit smelly) trace element that is linked with joint health. Some of the top sulfur-containing foods include:

  • Eggs (their yolks, in particular)
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Cruciferous vegetables (e.g., Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, radishes, turnips, kohlrabi, horseradish, and mustard)
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Oysters
  • Clams
  • Cheese
  • Peanuts
  • Brazil nuts
  • Chestnuts
  • Watercress
  • Cranberries

Other joint-friendly foods to include in your diet are:

  • Butter. Unfortunately butter has fallen out of favor due to the marketing propaganda that it is fattening and not "heart healthy." But in addition to being a great food, butter contains two components you rarely hear about anymore: Activator X and the Wulzen anti-stiffness factor.
    Activator X is a fat-soluble catalyst found in butter oil and meat from animals that are fed a high-quality grass diet. It's also found in some fish eggs. Activator X is an excellent source of fat-soluble vitamins, and it improves one's ability to absorb minerals. It also plays a key role in the repair and rebuilding of bone. The Wulzen anti-stiffness factor found in butter oil was discovered by Rosalind Wulzen. The compound helps protect against degenerative arthritis. Both Activator X and the Wulzen anti-stiffness factor can be destroyed with the excessive heating and pasteurization procedures dairy products are now subjected to, so the best source is raw milk and dairy products from grass-fed cattle. If you don’t have access to raw milk products, both of these compounds are present in a product called X-Factor Gold High Vitamin Butter Oil.
  • Fatty, cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines. These are a rich natural source of omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation in the joints. Fresh flaxseed oil is another outstanding source of this healthy fat. Simply drizzle a teaspoonful on your salad every day, or grind up whole flax seeds (just make sure to consume it immediately, as flax will oxidize and turn rancid very quickly).
  • Tart cherries (Prunus cerasus). These contain chemical compounds called anthocyanins, which give cherries their red color and their strong antioxidant capabilities. In addition, research has shown that these anthocyanins inhibit the same enzymes that are targeted by aspirin, ibuprofen, and other painkillers. Each tart cherry contains anywhere from 0.6 to 1.25 milligrams of anthocyanins, which means that eating roughly 20 cherries would have the same anti-inflammatory effects as one or two aspirin! In fact, the cherries were 10 times more efficient than aspirin at blocking inflammatory enzymes.
  • Ginger root. This plant also has anti-inflammatory properties. Sprinkle it over food as a seasoning or steep it as a tea.

It's also a good idea to switch to distilled water, not only for your joints, but for your overall health and longevity. To stay fully functional, cartilage must be fully hydrated. As children, our cartilage was made up of almost 85 percent water, but as we get older that drops to 75 percent in most cases—and even lower if we remain in a state of dehydration. Lots of pure water translates into more resilient joints.

Tap water, well water, and even bottled and filtered water contain chemicals and insoluble calcium and mineral deposits that can settle in your joints. The only way to get pure water is to distill your water. Drink at least a gallon a day until you notice an improvement in your joints and arthritic pain; after that, be sure to keep up a minimum of eight glasses per day.

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Foods/Beverages to Avoid

  • Alcohol. Alcohol intake depletes many of the B-vitamins and magnesium, both of which are needed by joint fluid and cartilage to function properly.
  • Refined sugar. This includes most junk food. Like alcohol, sugar depletes the B-vitamins and several trace minerals necessary for maintaining healthy joint cartilage and synovial fluid. Eliminating sugar (and fried foods) from the diet seems to be especially beneficial to those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. Oftentimes remarkable results are seen in just a few short days. More about how sugar damages health.
  • "Nightshades." Many folks with arthritis find that their joints become worse when they eat foods in the "nightshade" family, such as red and green peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, and potatoes.
  • Sodas and sports drinks. Sodas and sports drinks aren't good substitutes for water. The phosphoric acid in soda suppresses your ability to absorb the trace mineral manganese. While full-blown deficiencies are somewhat rare, even a low level of manganese significantly weakens the stabilizing ligaments that surround and support your joints. As a result, the joints become unstable and subject to an increased risk of subluxation, dislocation, and injury. Some of the most manganese-rich foods you should be eating include pineapple, spinach, mustard and collard greens, long grain brown rice, and various kinds of beans and legumes. Also, take 5 mg of supplemental manganese.

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More Dr. Williams Advice on Arthritis

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