Foods can have an anti-inflammatory effect that may help with inflammatory arthritis, which includes gout. A person can focus less on adding one or two foods and more on overall dietary changes.
Diet alone cannot cure or treat arthritis or gout. However, diets focusing on whole foods and including fewer processed foods and meats may help reduce inflammation. A balanced diet includes plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fatty fish, and olive or other plant-based oils.
Diets that focus on these changes may positively affect inflammation and make joints feel and function better.
This article reviews 10 foods that can help decrease inflammation and ease the pain and stiffness of inflammatory arthritis.
Several types of arthritis, including gout and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), involve inflammation in the body. Controlling inflammation could lead to a reduction in the severity of symptoms.
Evidence suggests that certain diets may have an anti-inflammatory effect. The Arthritis Foundation suggests that eating a Mediterranean diet is a good way to boost overall health and reduce inflammation due to its focus on whole foods.
Several studies have shown evidence of the Mediterranean diet’s positive effect on inflammation. A
Researchers in a
At the end of the study, participants who ate an anti-inflammatory diet had lower RA disease activity scores than a control group who ate a typical Swedish diet.
Researchers suggested that including probiotics in the anti-inflammatory diet may have contributed to the positive results. People with RA
All of the studies mentioned that additional, long-term investigations are necessary to better understand how diet can affect inflammation.
People with gout often have high levels of uric acid, which results from the breakdown of purines in foods such as red meat, organ meat, and some seafoods.
Therefore, people with gout need to keep their uric acid levels below 6 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). To do this, the Arthritis Foundation recommends avoiding:
- alcohol, such as beer and liquor
- organ meat
- some fish and seafood including anchovies, sardines, herring, mussels, codfish, scallops, trout and haddock
It is important to note that while certain foods may help manage inflammation, a person is unlikely to get their desired results by simply replacing or adding a few anti-inflammatory foods. All the studies above focused on entire diets, rather than individual foods.
While any healthy changes are worthwhile, people can focus on making changes to their diet as a whole and including a wide variety of potentially anti-inflammatory foods.
And, as the Arthritis Foundation notes, no specific diets for inflammatory arthritis will replace other forms of treatment.
Below are some foods that may be beneficial.
People who follow a Mediterranean diet include oily or fatty fish, like salmon or tuna, as part of their regular diet. Studies have shown that the fatty acids found in these fish may help reduce overall inflammation.
Eating fatty fish regularly may help reduce inflammation in people with RA. However, people with gout should focus on eating low purine-rich fish. Moreover, they should only occasionally eat moderate purine-rich fish which include:
Dark, leafy greens, such as kale and spinach, provide a variety of nutrients, including:
They are also a good source of dietary fiber and antioxidants that may help prevent cellular damage.
Vitamin K may help with preventing inflammatory conditions.
Dark, leafy green vegetables form part of an anti-inflammatory diet and
Olive oil is a staple of the Mediterranean diet. It may help with inflammation throughout the body.
The Arthritis Foundation notes olive oil contains certain chemicals that may reduce the inflammatory response, similar to ibuprofen.
Berries contain polyphenol compounds, which
They also provide several vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that protect the body against free radicals — molecules that can damage cells and organs.
The Arthritis Foundation recommends that people with gout eat cherries to lower their risk of gout flare-ups. The anthocyanins in the fruit — the pigments that give them their purple-red color — have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
When it comes to fruit in general, people with gout may wish to consume moderate amounts. The results of research into the effects of fruit sugar, or fructose, on uric acid levels are mixed. Some studies report an association between gout and eating fruit, while others show a lowered risk of gout.
People can try to include several types of fresh or frozen berries in their daily diet to benefit from their nutrients.
The nutrients in citrus fruit
The Arthritis Foundation states that vitamin C decreases uric acid levels and may help prevent gout flares. Grapefruits and oranges are high in vitamin C but low in fructose, which contributes to higher uric acid levels. Studies suggest consuming at least 500 milligrams of vitamin C per day, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
People can drink green tea hot or cold, take it as a supplement, or add green tea powder to smoothies and other foods. A major component of it, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), may help with inflammation.
According to a
Broccoli is a dark green cruciferous vegetable that contains vitamins A and C and phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are compounds from plants that may help reduce inflammation and the risk of developing cancer.
Broccoli also contains a compound called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane may help block the inflammatory process and slow cartilage damage in people with osteoarthritis. Eating plenty of cruciferous vegetables may also prevent RA from developing.
According to a 2018 meta-analysis, consuming whole grains can help reduce systemic inflammation. However, additional studies are needed to fully understand its effects.
Whole grains provide fiber, protein, and other nutrients. Common examples of whole grains include:
- brown rice
Beans provide fiber and protein with minimal fat. They have several nutrients that can
People can include beans in cooked dishes, blend them into dips, and add them to a salad.
Garlic, onions, leeks, and shallots are members of the allium family, which contain the antioxidant quercetin.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, alliums also contain diallyl disulfide, which may reduce cartilage-damaging enzymes.
They also add flavor to dishes, making them easy to include in the diet.
In addition to dietary changes, people may find that other lifestyle strategies may help support their joints and minimize symptoms. Some of these
- being physically active
- maintaining a moderate weight
- choosing low impact activities, exercises, and sports, such as swimming or walking
- reducing and managing stress
- getting plenty of quality sleep and rest
Arthritis has no cure. However, with medical treatment and lifestyle changes, people with arthritis can live healthy lives.
A person’s outlook will depend on the type of arthritis they have, their age, affected joints, lifestyle, and other health-related factors.
A person can talk with a doctor if their symptoms worsen or do not improve over time. They may also want to discuss dietary changes with a doctor, particularly if they are living with underlying medical conditions or taking certain medications.
Eating a nutritious, balanced diet may help reduce inflammation in the body. This may help some people with joint inflammation find some additional relief.
While individual foods may have a small anti-inflammatory effect, for best results, a person can focus on their diet as a whole rather than just adding a few foods to their regular diet.
Making healthy food choices is part of an overall treatment strategy for inflammatory arthritis, including gout. Alongside exercise, home remedies, and other lifestyle modifications, it can help people manage their symptoms.