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If you have arthritis, you know what to expect every day when you get up in the morning, trying to find a comfortable way to sit, grocery shopping where it’s one painful step in front of the other, difficulty buttoning your shirt. But wouldn’t it be nice to be flexible around the holidays? I don’t mean in terms of parties, events and trips, I mean with your joints.

Eating certain foods reduces inflammation and pain. But first, here are three food groups you should avoid, since these harm your brain, joints and cartilage:

• Anything with artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners

• GMO foods because they are so “hardy” they pierce the gut, leaching toxins into your body and poisoning your bloodstream.

• Pesticides (organic is better, especially if you have a PON1 gene SNP)

Now, let’s look at the 5 of the best foods to include in your diet if you have arthritis pain:

1. Organic ginger: Ginger is highly anti-inflammatory. Researchers found that ginger relieves pain in patients with osteoarthritis, helping 63 percent of participants. Another study found that ginger can block the manufacture of inflammatory cytokines in the body. Make tea or grate into meals.

2. Tart cherries: Like blueberries, cherries are rich in a compound called anthocyanin, which gives cherries their deep blue-red hue. A 2013 study found that patients who drink tart cherry juice found they improved levels of pain and stiffness from arthritis. It’s known to help with gouty arthritis too.

3. Garlic: Garlic is good for so many health-promoting effects in the body. It’s cancer preventative and a potent anti-inflammatory food. In one study of 1,082 twins, researchers found that those who ate the most garlic experienced the least symptoms from osteoarthritis.

4. Fennel: Fennel has long been used as medicine in ancient Rome and Greece. Fennel is a delicious way to spice up a salad, by making your salad virtually cancer-preventative and helping to drastically reduce inflammation in the joints and tissues.

5. Beet Greens: Dark, leafy greens like beet greens are full of phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals that reduce inflammation all over the body. Beet greens (not beets) are extremely high in vitamin K, another potent anti-inflammatory. Two cups of these will about 4,700 mg of potassium which can help regulate blood pressure. Sauté these with garlic in some grass fed butter. They wilt within a minute.

6. Spinach: A recent 2017 study showed how kaempferol (which is found in spinach) reduces inflammation and prevents the progression of osteoarthritis, the wear-and-tear type of arthritis. Kaempferol also decreases the effects of inflammatory cytokines associated with rheumatoid arthritis, the autoimmune form that affects bone marrow.

If you want to be more flexible, now and into the new year, think clean, green, organic, non-nitrate, natural foods as best you can. It may sound difficult if not stifling, but if you set your mind to it, you’ll notice changes within a month.

Suzy Cohen can be reached at www.SuzyCohen.com

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