My 12-year battle with RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) & OA (Osteoarthritis) has been incredibly challenging. For a decade my condition was chronic and my dreams of remission seemed unattainable.
For many years my Aunt tried to convince me to change my diet and consume foods that could help fight the inflammation in my body that was caused by RA. Back then, I didn’t listen to her – well, I listened, but I didn’t do as she suggested. I’m not exactly sure why I didn’t – maybe it was because I was angry that I had the disease, that I was exhausted from the pain, that I didn’t think something as simple as eating certain foods could make me feel better.
However, I know now that I should have listened to my Aunt the first time she told me about it. If I would have, it might have improved my RA all those years ago and spared me some pain and suffering.
It wasn’t until after my 2nd total hip replacement that I started to change my diet (I guess that exhibits how hard headed I can be.) I started to incorporate foods into my diet that were recommended to help reduce inflammation, while still taking my RA meds as prescribed. I slowly started to feel improvements – less fatigued and less stiffness in the mornings, etc. When I saw those results, I thought, “I wonder if I can feel even better by changing even more of what I’m eating?”
So I went for it – changed my diet to strictly foods thought not to cause inflammation. It was hard, but man oh man was it worth it! Within weeks I could physically see the inflammation in my most chronic joints almost disappear. I truly believe that in combination with my medications, changing my diet played a major role in achieving remission. Thank you Aunt Lydia for not giving up on me. J
Here are my top 10 favorite foods to reduce inflammation:
- Chocolate – I LOVE chocolate and cannot live without it. I practically did a back flip when I found out that I could still eat it and fight inflammation at the same time. Dark chocolate contains high concentrations of flavonoids – at least 70% pure cocoa is the way to go.
- Cherries – I wish cherries were always in season so that I could have them whenever I want. Even more so learning that researchers suggested that tart cherries have the highest anti-inflammatory content of any food. WOW.
- Tuna – I have tuna salad at least once a week, super convenient for lunches at work. Tuna and other fish are high in Omega-3 fatty acids. If you aren’t a fish person, maybe you can get the same result from fish-oil supplements.
- Broccoli – I would say that broccoli is my go to veggie at dinner time – you can always find a frozen bag in my freezer. Dark leafy green veggies tend to have higher concentrations of vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron.
- Pineapple – Nothing like a tropical fruit to make you feel like summertime, anytime! I enjoy it right out of the can, or a slice on top of a turkey burger. Pineapple is rich in vitamin C and the enzyme bromelain, which may decrease pain and inflammation in OA and RA.
- Almonds – One of my favorite snacks, that I sometimes have in a sandwich bag in my purse in case of emergencies. Nuts are healthy fats — they are rich in fiber, calcium, and vitamin E, and packed with antioxidants.
- Oranges – Cuties are good, but I need the real deal even if they are more difficult to peel open. Citrus foods are rich in vitamin C, which helps build and repair blood vessels and bone and is also a great source of antioxidants – making it helpful for people with OA & RA.
- Whole Grains – I don’t like to consume too much grain, so I monitor my intake and usually have some type of whole grain once per day. Eating most of your grains as whole grains opposed to refined (white bread, cereal, rice, pasta) can help keep inflammation under control.
- Strawberries – I love strawberries just as much as I love chocolate – I’ve got to have them every chance I get, frozen or fresh. Berries have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and are high in antioxidants.
- Olive Oil – I cook with olive oil for almost every dinner – if you aren’t already I suggest you try cooking with olive oil. It’s very rich in oleic acid, which is an Omega-9 fatty acid that helps keep inflammation down.
Sources: Health.com, Everyday Health, Healthline