Joint pain comes in many forms. According to The Mayo ClinicMany causes of this pain stem from a form of inflammation, such as rheumatoid arthritis. But other insidious diseases can also cause joint mobility problems. Lyme disease, gout, lupus, and even the occasional sprain can lead to this particular type of pain that can keep you awake for days.
Finding ways to ease the pain is essential, especially if you live with a chronic condition that can inflame or affect this sensitive area. Cleveland Clinic recommends some gentle exercises, losing weight to decrease the load on the joints, and even taking dietary supplements that have the ability to reduce the amount of pain. In addition, your diet also plays a huge role.
“Nearly one in four American adults report stiff and painful joints“says Jennifer Diggs, RD at granny. “While we often look to trauma like sprains, cartilage tears, or structural injuries as the source of pain, our diet is another good place to start. This is especially true with autoimmune disorders like arthritis. rheumatoid disease where food related triggers are strongly considered.”
In order to figure out exactly which eating habits you need to break for joint pain relief, we spoke with a handful of dietitians who explained which eating habits you need to break and why they cause so many problems. Here are some habits you should consider limiting, and for more tips, here are The Worst Foods for Joint Pain After 50.
Gluten has gotten a bad rap over the years, but it seems eating too much of it may actually have a link to joint pain.
“Living with a chronic disease affects all areas of life: physical, mental and emotional,” says Trista Best, RD at Balance One Supplements. “Many chronic diseases are affected by the foods and nutrients we eat, both positively and negatively. Pro-inflammatory foods often make these conditions worse or exacerbate their side effects.”
“People with autoimmune diseases can better control joint pain and stiffness if they avoid inflammatory foods like gluten-containing products,” Best continues. “Similarly, adding anti-inflammatory foods like those high in omega-3 fatty acids can improve joint pain and help reduce flare-ups.”
Probiotics have been popping up everywhere, and they seem to be good for another health issue.
“Chronic low-grade inflammation, usually caused by inflammatory foods, can also lead to low mood,” Best continues. “The neurons that line the gut play an important role in your mood. These neurons produce serotonin, a mood-related neurotransmitter.”
“Therefore, keeping the gut lining healthy through…fermented foods and possible probiotic supplementation can be a useful tool in preventing both chronic disease flare-ups and low mood.”
Trying to figure out exactly which probiotics to buy can make anyone’s head spin. If you want to get rid of joint pain, grab one of 11 probiotic foods for gut health that aren’t yogurt.
“In my work with clients with joint pain, the number one thing I look for is foods high in added sugar that contribute to eating patterns that repeatedly lead to the same outcome or symptom,” says Diggs. “As a known trigger of chronic inflammation in the body, sugar found in foods like cookies and soft drinks is often the culprit. Surprisingly, this also applies to injury-related joint pain, as almost all joint pain is influenced by inflammation.”
“The good news is we can often reverse inflammation by reducing added sugars from our diets“, continues Diggs. “Tests show a reduction in the inflammatory blood marker C-reactive protein (CRP) when sugar intake is reduced, which means we can once again move our joints more freely and with less pain. And if that’s not reason enough to put the soda can down, cutting down on added sugar intake also lowers the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other serious illnesses.”
“Some research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids…reduce the inflammatory response in a variety of ways,” says Betsy Fears, RDN, CD at RET Physiotherapy Group. “Although it is not conclusive, research has hypothesized that omega 3 fatty acids reduce the amount of arachidonic acid, an inflammatory fatty acidd, which binds to cell membranes and reduces the production of inflammatory cytokines in the body, thereby reducing inflammation in the body.”
Don’t assume you need to get this essential nutrient exclusively from fish. You can get your daily serving of omega-3s from the 26 Best Omega-3 Foods to Fight Inflammation and Support Heart Health.
You’ve heard about the benefits of fiber before, but now this nutrient can also potentially limit your joint pain.
“Fiber is also broken down into short-chain fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory effects,” says Fears.
While you can get your daily dose of fiber in a variety of forms, don’t assume you have to completely switch from white bread to unprocessed whole-wheat bread at every meal for the rest of the time.
“It’s possible to include processed foods in the diet by balancing it with whole foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc.),” Fears continues. “Having a dessert or a slice of pizza is not totally excluded. Adding fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains to most of your meals is a great way to provide balance and is extremely beneficial for overall health. People’s diets tend to sway one way or the other, and consuming processed foods more often than whole foods for a substantial amount of time can make joint pain worse.”