Inflammation in our bodies can cause us to feel achy and creaky at our joints. Whilst this is more noticeable in the winter months, it's important we take care of our bodies all year round. Especially since long term inflammation can cause not only joint pain, but also fatigue, insomnia, weight gain and gastrointestinal issues (1). Luckily, we can help to support our joints and counter inflammation using our diet. Below, we take a look at 5 anti-inflammatory foods that are great for your joints.
Curcumin, the key ingredient extracted from turmeric root, is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory food. Studies show that curcumin is a more effective treatment for people with rheumatoid arthritis than your over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs. To help increase the absorption of curcumin, add a pinch of black pepper to your meal or smoothie.
In addition to its punchy and delicious flavour, ginger is great for easing joint pain. It is an anti-inflammatory and in a clinical trial that assessed the effects of ginger extract, they found that 63% of the 261 participants with knee osteoarthritis experienced improvements with their knee pain. It can be consumed fresh, powdered, or dried to reduce inflammation and aid in reducing symptoms of joint pain.
Berries are full of vitamins and minerals that contain powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds, like anthocyanins. The anthocyanin compounds are what make berries a rich red or purple colour. Studies show that they play an active role in tackling inflammation and free radicals. It's important to note that excessive exercise can generate free radicals, which can exhaust your antioxidant defence system, causing damage to your cells and muscles.
Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which have many health benefits and it contains the natural compounds oleocanthal, which can help prevent arthritis related inflammation. Oleocanthal blocks the same inflammatory pathways as ibuprofen and aspirin. For the highest antioxidant content, be sure to use extra virgin olive oil. The stronger the taste of the olive oil, the higher the levels of oleocanthal.
Salmon is rich in Omega-3 sources that inhibit inflammation. Research has discovered that people who regularly eat fish high in Omega-3 are less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis. For those who already have it, marine Omega-3 may help to reduce joint swelling and pain. When cooking salmon, adding in herbs, like rosemary, can help to increase the antioxidant properties.
Since so many of these foods are great for joint health and can be mixed together, we've written a great recipe for an anti-inflammatory smoothie:
200g mixed berries
1 tbsp fresh ginger - peeled and chopped
1 tbsp fresh turmeric - peeled and chopped
3-5 tsp agave or maple syrup (depending on how sweet you want it)
170ml unsweetened almond milk
Grind or dash of pepper
Simply combine in your blender and adjust for your taste, then enjoy!