When you make a plan to tackle your knee osteoarthritis (OA), don't overlook the power of food. There's no specific diet that treats your problem, but you can get some big health benefits if you eat smart. You'll keep your weight under control, build strong cartilage, and cut some inflammation.
You don't have to make a major overhaul to your diet. Follow these simple steps to keep your joints happy.
Jerry Wade used to love bird-watching with his wife, an avid birder. "I'm not a birder myself, but I like being active and getting out there with her," he says. "Bird-watching puts you into natural areas and some rough terrain -- it's not an easy physical activity."
But in the fall of 2005, the 66-year-old Columbia, Mo., resident, who had retired in 2000 from a career in community development, started noticing "pains and twinges" in his knees. A visit to his doctor in January 2006 brought the diagnosis:...
Your knees will feel better if you keep your waistline trim. When you drop those extra pounds, you'll put less stress on your joints. A good way to lower your calorie count: Take smaller portions, avoid sugary foods and drinks, and eat mostly plant-based foods.
2. Eat More Fruits and Veggies
Feel free to eat plenty of these. Many are loaded with antioxidants -- substances that can help protect your cells from damage.
Some antioxidants, found in fruits and veggies like apples, onions, shallots, and strawberries, may also help reduce joint inflammation and pain.
3. Add Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3s may help relieve your joint pain and decrease morning stiffness. They work by reducing inflammation in your body.
One easy way to add them to your diet is to eat two 3-ounce servings of fatty fish each week. Some of the best sources of omega-3s are trout, salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna, and sardines.
4. Use Olive Oil in Place of Other Fats
One study shows that a compound in olive oil, called oleocanthal, helps prevent inflammation. It works in much the same way that NSAIDs do. Olive oils with the strongest flavor have the highest amount.
About 3 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil offers the same relief as 200 milligrams of ibuprofen. But that much oil also gives you about 400 calories.
To add olive oil to your diet without extra calories, use it in place of other fats, such as butter.
5. Get Enough Vitamin C
A key element for joint health, vitamin C helps build collagen and connective tissue. A lot of tasty foods can give you this nutrient. Try citrus fruits, red peppers, strawberries, broccoli, cabbage, and kale. Aim for the recommended amount of 75 milligrams a day for women or 90 milligrams a day for men.
6. Watch High Cooking Temperatures
Meat cooked at high temperatures makes compounds that can cause inflammation in your body. They're called advanced glycation end products (AGEs), and they're linked to diseases such as arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes.
You can reduce your levels of AGEs if you cut back on grilled, fried, broiled, and microwaved meats. It’s also helpful to limit processed foods, as they are often cooked at high temperatures.