Foods that can help prevent and control arthritis

21 Apr Foods that can help prevent and control arthritis

Foods that can help prevent and control arthritis

Arthritis affects around 10 million people in the UK. There are several forms of the condition, the most common being osteoarthritis which affects around 8 million. While the condition mainly affects older people, and in particular women, it can occur at any age, often as the consequence of an injury.

Osteoarthritis affects the smooth cartilage that lines joint restricting movement and causing pain and stiffness. Tendons and ligaments are affected resulting in inflammation and the formation of bony spurs, (osteophytes). Rheumatoid arthritis is the second most common form, and is caused by an immune response that affects the outer covering of the joint and which can eventually result in the breakdown of bone and cartilage.


Diet and Arthritis

We can all influence our health profoundly by choosing a healthy diet, and this includes preventing and controlling the impact of arthritis. Diet has been shown to have a significant impact on most forms of arthritis: fatty acids are known to be good for treating rheumatoid arthritis; foods such as dietary purines, alcohol, and achieving the right energy balance are important for controlling gout; and maintaining a healthy weight and bone structure are important in osteoarthritis (Cleland, Hill, and James, 1995). In particular omega-3 fatty acid, vitamin D, and the Mediterranean diet are highly effective (Tedeschi and Costenbader, 2016).


Oily Fish

Fish such as sardines, salmon, mackerel and trout are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids which can help reduce inflation.  They are also rich in magnesium and calcium and vitamin D which are essential for maintaining healthy bone structures.



Broccoli, spinach and kale along with many other leafy green are rich in magnesium and calcium, essential for keeping your bones healthy. They are also rich in vitamin E which can reduce the levels of cytokines which are formed by specific cells in the immune system and involved in inflammation and reabsorbtion of bone tissue.



Avocado is also rich in magnesium, important for healthy joints, and the so-called good fats that are good for your body. They are also a good source of boron which is thought to play an important role in the metabolism of minerals, hormone metabolism and membrane function. Boron may also play a direct role role in improving arthritis (Devirian and Volpe, 2003).



Turmeric contains curcumin, responsible for its bright yellow colour and an important dietary supplement. It has a long tradition in ancient medicine and it is recognised to have several health benefits including a direct effect on arthritis (Funk, J.L., 2006).


Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds contain omega-3 acids, beneficial for reducing inflation. They are also rich in minerals, boron and sulphur, essential for maintaining bone health.


Olive oil

Virgin olive oil is rich in various phenols that have a powerful anti-inflammatory action. One in particular, oleocanthal, has similar anti-inflammatory properties to ibuprofen (Lucas, L., et. al., 2011). Note that the best form is cold pressed extra virgin olive which is best used as a salad dressing. It should not be used for high temperature cooking as doing so can produce unhealthy radicals.



Don’t expect that changing your diet will cure your arthritis; unfortunately, it won’t, but many people find that a healthy diet including the foods mentioned above can help alleviate the symptoms. Maintaining a healthy weight is also important as it will reduce the strain on your joints.


In summary, you should ensure you have a balanced diet that provides all the nutrients, minerals and vitamins you require. A more Mediterranean diet with fish, olive oil, vegetables and fruit is a good choice, and probably the most important choice of all is to eat plenty of food such as oily fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.


This article was written by our physiotherapist Dana Maki



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    Cleland, L.G., Hill, C.L. and James, M.J., 1995. Diet and arthritis. Baillière’s clinical rheumatology, 9(4), pp.771-785.

    Devirian, T.A. and Volpe, S.L., 2003. The physiological effects of dietary boron.

    Funk, J.L., Oyarzo, J.N., Frye, J.B., Chen, G., Lantz, R.C., Jolad, S.D., Sólyom, A.M. and Timmermann, B.N., 2006. Turmeric Extracts Containing Curcuminoids Prevent Experimental Rheumatoid Arthritis#. Journal of natural products, 69(3), pp.351-355.

    Lucas, L., Russell, A. and Keast, R., 2011. Molecular mechanisms of inflammation. Anti-inflammatory benefits of virgin olive oil and the phenolic compound oleocanthal. Current pharmaceutical design, 17(8), pp.754-768.

    Tedeschi, S.K. and Costenbader, K.H., 2016. Is There a Role for Diet in the Therapy of Rheumatoid Arthritis?. Current Rheumatology Reports, 18(5), pp.1-9.

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