Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative joint disorder that leads to pain and stiffness in your hands, knees and other body parts. The disorder affects the entire joint. Your joints have a padding of cartilage that thins and eventually wears down. The causes for this degradation range from overuse to old age.
Without the cushioning between your joints, the bones will rub together, causing pain and limited mobility. Scientists developed certain treatments to reduce the pain by decreasing inflammation and stopping the breakdown of the bone. These treatments include injections, creams and oral medications.
Many consumers who take over-the-counter supplements to lubricate the joints and reduce inflammation are now exploring the benefits of functional food.
Functional food is a food, herb or spice that provides your body with additional health benefits besides the nutritional content. The nutraceutical market promotes functional food and supplements to fight disorders like osteoarthritis.
The following is a list of five foods that experts believe can benefit people suffering from OA.
Broccoli contains high levels of sulforaphane. This disease-fighting compound kills free radicals in your body and blocks the enzymes responsible for osteoarthritis and the degradation of the joints. Cabbage, cauliflower and kale contain lower levels of sulforaphane. If you want the richest source of the antioxidant compound — plus vitamin K to strengthen your bone cartilage — eat more broccoli on a consistent basis.
Green tea and Rose Hip Tea
The anti-inflammatory phytochemicals found in rose hip tea can fight the pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis as well as help people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. One study stated that patients who drank rose hip tea had lowered their pain scores compared to those who did not. You may need to look in a health food store for rose hip tea.
Green tea contains the phytochemical epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) that may work as an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever, with the possibility of becoming an alternative to prescription medications in the future. Green tea is widely available, but consult your physician about consuming tea while taking your current medications to avoid potential adverse effects.
Although you may have avoided dairy products in the past due to their high fat content, low fat dairy is beneficial for people suffering from both osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. These products contain calcium and vitamin D to strengthen bones and boost your immune system. Low fat dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese are widely available in your local grocery store.
Ginger is a functional food used to relieve several ailments including nausea and upset stomach. The root also helps with the pain and inflammation from arthritis. In one study, ginger extract reduced pain and stiffness by 40 percent in people with osteoarthritis of the knee. According to experts, ginger affects the inflammatory processes at the cellular level.
Ginger is widely available as a spice, tea, extract, tincture, fresh root and capsules. Ask your physician about the amount you should try to feel relief. Ginger also works as a blood thinner, so consult your pharmacist if you're currently taking blood thinner medications.
Cold-water fish like salmon and tuna are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that work as an anti-inflammatory, possibly reducing your joint pain from OA. Try to consume three to four ounces of fish at least twice a week to receive the medicinal benefits. You can also try other cold-water fish like mackerel and herring.
Other Ways to Relieve the Pain from OA
Besides functional food, prescription and over-the-counter treatments, you can also try massage to promote blood flow to the joint area. You may need to visit a specialized massage therapist if your joints are sensitive.
Warm water therapy is another increasingly popular treatment method. This therapy uses a combination of water-based exercises and an adjustable, heated pool to combat osteoarthritis. The warm water and hydrotherapy work to calm the symptoms and discomfort of OA. The benefits of this therapy include pain and inflammation reduction, increased strength and a drug-free way to treat OA.
You can add several other functional foods to your weekly menu to fight osteoarthritis, including flaxseeds, walnuts, green leafy vegetables, canola oil and olive oil. Start with the five foods mentioned above for a few weeks and see how you feel.
Jennifer Landis is tea sipping, yoga loving mom, wife, and healthy living blogger. She enjoys a good run, yoga, and peanut butter. You can check out her blog, Mindfulness Mama or follow her on Twitter @JenniferELandis.