Many people suffer from aching joints and rigidity in the morning, regardless of their age. In general, this ailment only requires non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications to be solved. However, many studies demonstrated that choosing the right specific foods may be just as useful to alleviate aches in your joints.
We asked Doctor Fabio Intelligente, anesthesiologist and Coordinator of the Antalgic Therapy Service for Chronic Pain at Humanitas.
The Benefits of the Mediterranean diet
There is ample evidence in favour of the benefits of the Mediterranean diet on our health. It is sometimes compared to the benefits produced by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (the so-called FANS). A 2015 American study demonstrated the existence of a correlation between a diet based on fruit, vegetables, legumes and cereals, and a significant reduction of pain in patients who suffer from osteoarthritis.
The Mediterranean diet comprises:
- Great quantities of all-bran cereals, legumes, fruit and vegetables
- Only trans fats, especially extra virgin olive oil
- Modest quantities of red wine at every meal
- Moderate consumption of fish, white meat and milk
- Little quantities of cheese, eggs, red meat, sausages
- Occasional consumption of sweets, cakes and sweet beverages
Fish oil, especially fish oil from freshwater fish (such as wild salmon and trout) and some saltwater fishes (such as tuna, cod and sardines) is rich in omega-3 and has beneficial effects on the entire body. Many studies demonstrated that its fatty acid content works as an anti-inflammatory and it is particularly useful to alleviate aches in joints, thus allowing the reduction in the consumption of FANS. For this reason, experts recommend eating quality freshwater fish twice a week.
In addition to other vegetables, we should eat some brassicas every day. Cabbages, cauliflower, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, arugula, turnips, radishes.
They are rich in vitamins, fibres and anti-oxidants, such as sulforaphane. This substance, discovered ten years ago in broccoli, blocks an enzyme that causes pain and inflammation. The positive effects of sulforaphane on the health of the joints (especially in patients with arthritis and athletes) have been demonstrated.
Spices, Herbs and Green tea
Turmeric and ginger are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. In particular, turmeric has been used for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis.
Green tea is one of the most appreciated beverages in the world, and its beneficial effects on human health have been long since demonstrated. Polyphenols give it anti-inflammatory properties, useful against arthritis.