With the right foods, you may be able to eat your way out of pain

WASHINGTON — So you’ve got some aches and pains? Of course you do.

Maybe it’s a sore knee or an achy back or shoulder. Well, join the club, because about 1 in 5 Americans suffers some form of arthritis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Seventy-eight million Americans will suffer from one form of arthritis or another by 2040. But Sally Squires, who writes the Lean Plate Club™ blog, said the right diet can help reduce pain.

Tart cherry juice is proving to be a very good arthritis fighter, Squires told WTOP. A University of Pennsylvania study gave two 8-ounce bottles of tart cherry juice a day for six weeks to 58 non-diabetic, osteoarthritis patients. They found that those who drank the tart cherry juice showed better scores on an index used to assess the extent of the arthritis compared with a control group that didn’t drink the juice.

Walking times also improved more in the juice-drinking group, and the juice also appeared to lower an inflammation marker called C-Reactive Protein, meaning everything got a little “quieter” in the body.

Indian food is good for arthritis sufferers, as well, because it contains turmeric and curcumin, often found in Indian and folk remedies. Animal and human studies point to these spices as having anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, antifungal and other benefits.

Turmeric is pungent and bitter and has a little flavor of ginger. Curcumin is a less-known component of turmeric. Some call curcumin “curecumin” for its curative properties. Cayenne pepper is another good spice: A Cochrane Library review of 14 randomized, controlled, clinical trials found that cayenne reduced back pain more than a placebo.

Fish oil is pretty popular, too. But does it help cut joint pain? Studies suggest that fish oil may help to reduce osteoarthritis pain, particularly in knees. A Mayo Clinic study in 2015 found that fish oils could theoretically help reduce inflammation, but enough studies have not been done to recommend fish oil supplements.

Those that have been done do point to some benefits.  A 2015 study of 75 patients in Thailand found that 1,000 milligrams of fish oil per day improved knee performance compared with a placebo. A 2,000-milligram dose showed no increased benefits.

Eating more fruits and vegetables could help — they have antioxidants that help thwart inflammation.

Meanwhile, the dietary supplements glucosamine and/or chondroitin are often thought of as good to fight inflammation, but in reality, they fare no better than a placebo in slowing the structural damage of knee osteoarthritis.

In fact, the American College of Rheumatology has recommended that people with knee or hip osteoarthritis not use glucosamine or chondroitin; but the recommendation was not a strong one, and the ACR acknowledged that it was controversial.


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