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Diet for Stiff & Painful Joints

author image Sari Hardyal
Based in Dayton, Ohio, Sari Hardyal has been writing fitness, sports, entertainment and health-related articles for more than five years. Hardyal holds a Bachelor of Science in mass communication from Miami University and is pursuing her master's degree in occupational therapy and her doctorate in physical therapy. She is a certified personal trainer with the National Federation of Professional Trainers.
Diet for Stiff & Painful Joints
Arthritis can cause painful swelling in the joints, but diet can reduce the inflammation. Photo Credit mains jointes image by Philippe LERIDON from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

Stiff and painful joints result from a variety of causes. Athletes may sustain joint injuries while playing sports, and people of all ages suffer joint pain from arthritis. Dr. A. Econs, medical Director of Allergy Medical UK, says a high percentage of people with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can improve their condition or get rid of all symptoms of arthritis simply by changing their diet.

Types and Causes

Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can both cause joint stiffness and pain due to an increasing inflammation in the joint over time. Arthritis is more prominent in middle-aged to elderly people, but young people are occasionally diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Posture problems such as slouching, sleeping in an awkward position or wearing high-heeled shoes every day can lead to joint pain and stiffness. According to Dr. Grady Deal, holistic nutritional chiropractor, posture problems rank as the number-one cause of joint pain, while an unhealthy diet is the second cause of stiff and painful joints.

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Eating unhealthy foods leads to toxicity in the body, which can lead to joint pain and stiffness. According to Dr. Deal, anything that "poisons" the body should be eliminated. These toxins lead to stress, causing muscles to tighten and spasm, which pulls the back and joints out of line, causing stiffness. Inflammation, water retention and edema can also result from an unhealthy diet and put pressure on nerves, which leads to joint pain and stiffness.

Foods to Avoid

Dr. Deal suggests avoiding dairy products, chocolate, MSG, alcohol, coffee and nonprescription medication. These are the top foods leading to increased toxicity in the body. Avoid eating at fast food restaurants and drinking soda.

Foods to Eat

Arthritis Today suggests eating calcium-rich foods such as yogurt, kale, salmon, figs, broccoli and calcium supplements. Eat plenty of vegetables. Add tomato and lettuce to your burgers and chicken sandwiches, and substitute a side salad for french fries. Drink plenty of orange juice. Arthritis Today says research shows that increased vitamin C helps prevent osteoarthritis. Eat fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as mackerel or salmon. Leafy greens like spinach, parsley and bibb lettuce are good picks from the salad bar.


Focus on your goal. Reminding yourself how eating healthier foods will increase your joint health will make it easier to cut back on eating the foods you love. Eat frequently. Eating several smaller meals throughout the day will increase your metabolism and help your body run more efficiently. Snack on healthy food. Keep fruit cubes and fresh cut veggies available in your fridge so you can grab a few on your way out the door. Keep a journal of the foods you eat each day and how your joint health is affected.

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