What is a Diet for Osteoarthritis?

Gayle R.
Gayle R.
A picture of a healthy spine and one with osteoarthritis.
A picture of a healthy spine and one with osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis, also called degenerative arthritis, is a condition in which the cartilage lining the joints erodes away. The degenerative bone disease can be caused by many things, including genetics, age, metabolic disorders, or injury. It causes pain in the affected joint, inflammation, stiffness, popping of the joints, and decreased movement in the area. Treatment usually include exercise, weight loss, pain killers, and in severe cases, surgery. Recently, researchers have been looking at a possible link between diet and this type of arthritis; here are some suggestions for the best diet for osteoarthritis.

A healthy hip and one with osteoarthritis.
A healthy hip and one with osteoarthritis.

Little concrete evidence exists that shows that one certain type of diet for osteoarthritis can help prevent the onset of the disease. However, certain foods do seem to help prevent flare-ups of the condition in some people. Foods that help reduce inflammation seem to be especially helpful in lessening painful arthritis symptoms. For example, a diet that includes high levels of omega-3 fatty acids can reduce joint inflammation, and is therefore a recommended part of the diet for osteoarthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, and sardines, as well as nuts and flax seeds.

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in flax seed oil.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in flax seed oil.

Some people with osteoarthritis say they have flare ups after eating foods from the nightshade family. These foods include tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and eggplant. By avoiding these foods in a diet for osteoarthritis, many patients can reduce or eliminate the pain and swelling in their joints. Orange juice also seems to stimulate the onset of arthritic pain.

Maintaining a food journal is a great way to track which foods are causing symptoms.
Maintaining a food journal is a great way to track which foods are causing symptoms.

Vitamin C helps a body build normal cartilage. If a person doesn't get enough vitamin C, he or she might be at risk for developing arthritis. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits and green vegetables, and can also be taken as a dietary supplement. People who don't get enough calcium and vitamin D for normal bone growth could also be at risk for getting osteoarthritis. Dairy products, adequate sunlight, and calcium-fortified foods should provide the necessary amounts of these vitamins and minerals; otherwise, calcium and vitamin D supplements are recommended. Some research also suggests that glucosamine and chondroitin supplements can help rebuild joint cartilage and therefore reduce the risk for osteoarthritis.

Salmon fillets are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Salmon fillets are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.

One of the most important factors in the development of osteoarthritis is obesity. The extra weight puts added stress on joints and ligaments and may be a factor in development of osteoarthritis. A diet that focuses on weight loss may help stop or postpone the development of osteoarthritis, and might help reduce the symptoms.

Researchers have yet to find the perfect diet for osteoarthritis for all of its sufferers. One of the best ways for people to determine a good diet for their arthritis is to follow the dietary recommendations above, and then slowly add in foods one at a time to determine which foods might be problematic. A food journal can also help pinpoint what seems to make the condition better, or what seems to exacerbate its symptoms.

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    • A picture of a healthy spine and one with osteoarthritis.
      By: peterjunaidy
      A picture of a healthy spine and one with osteoarthritis.
    • A healthy hip and one with osteoarthritis.
      By: Alila
      A healthy hip and one with osteoarthritis.
    • Omega-3 fatty acids are found in flax seed oil.
      By: spline_x
      Omega-3 fatty acids are found in flax seed oil.
    • Maintaining a food journal is a great way to track which foods are causing symptoms.
      By: pio3
      Maintaining a food journal is a great way to track which foods are causing symptoms.
    • Salmon fillets are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.
      By: dulsita
      Salmon fillets are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.
    • Sardines are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce joint inflammation due to osteoarthritis.
      By: nito
      Sardines are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce joint inflammation due to osteoarthritis.
    • Avoiding foods from the nightshade family may improve the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
      By: Vasily Merkushev
      Avoiding foods from the nightshade family may improve the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
    • Some people report that eating eggplants, tomatoes, or any other member of the nightshade family causes their arthritis to flare up.
      By: Konstiantyn
      Some people report that eating eggplants, tomatoes, or any other member of the nightshade family causes their arthritis to flare up.