Joint aches are common ailments that can result from an injury or be symptoms of conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. Dietary changes are among the natural options some people turn to for relief of joint pain. For instance, certain vegetables, such as those of the nightshade family, have been considered as triggers of joint pain. But before you slash any foods off your grocery list, seek more advice from your doctor.
Nightshade Plants and Joint Pain
In some cases, patients with rheumatoid arthritis cite nightshade vegetables, such as eggplant, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes and zucchinis, as foods that aggravate their condition. However, research on this link is lacking. If you believe that these foods make your arthritis-related joint pain worse, try eliminating them from your diet to see if the pain subsides. Remember to also eliminate any foods that contain them as well, for instance, tomato sauce and ketchup contain tomatoes.
Vegetables with Omega-3 Fats
Foods such as olives, algae and green, leafy vegetables are plant sources of omega-3 essential fatty acids. These healthy fats help to lower inflammation and joint pain and can also improve morning stiffness caused by rheumatoid arthritis. Add olives to your meals or cook with extra virgin olive oil whenever possible. Sea vegetables include spirulina and chlorella, and you can find them in raw or supplement form in natural health food stores. Seek advice from your doctor about taking them in supplement form or if you're suffering with a health problem besides your achy joints.
Vegetables with Vitamin C and Beta-Cryptoxanthin
Some vegetables are good sources of vitamin C and beta-cryptoxanthin --- another antioxidant in the carotenoid family, which includes beta-carotene and lycopene. Diets low in vitamin C and beta-cryptoxanthin can triple your risk of developing inflammatory arthritis, according to James A. Duke, author of "The Green Pharmacy Guide to Healing Foods." Antioxidants also fight free radicals that damage joints and help to rebuild cells. Vitamin C for instance is a key building block in collagen, which is one of the main components in joint cartilage. Add vegetables rich in these nutrients --- such as Brussels sprouts, cucumbers, celery, green beans and butternut squash --- to help fight joint pain.
The American Dietetic Association recommends that adults consume about 2-½ cups of vegetables daily as part of a well-balanced diet. Because joint aches can be signs of an underlying condition such as arthritis or an injury, if they persist, seek medical attention. If you are on a special diet for another medical problem, such as diabetes or heart disease, do not change your diet without speaking to your doctor first.
- Hospital for Special Surgery: Eating Right with Arthritis: Arthritis Nutrition FAQs
- "The Green Pharmacy Guide to Healing Foods"; James A. Duke, Ph.D.; 2008
- The Franklin Institute: Nourish - Fats
- American Dietetic Association: Healthy Eating for Women
- American Dietetic Association: Healthy Eating for Men
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Omega-3 Fatty Acids