Many people experience joint stiffness and pain when waking up regardless of age. Joint stiffness is a disorder that is usually resolved by taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. However, many studies show that a correct and specific diet could be just as effective in alleviating joint pain.

We talk about this topic with Dr. Fabio Intelligente, anesthesiologist and Coordinator of the Analgesic Therapy Service for Chronic Pain in Humanitas.


Benefits of the Mediterranean diet

The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, in some cases comparable to those of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), have been widely demonstrated.

A 2015 U.S. study showed a correlation between diets made entirely from fruits, vegetables, legumes and cereals, and a significant reduction in pain in osteoarthritis patients.


The Mediterranean diet includes:

  • High consumption of raw cereals, legumes, fruits and vegetables;
  • Exclusive use of unsaturated fats, in particular extra virgin olive oil;
  • A meal accompanied by a small amount of red wine;
  • Moderate consumption of fish, white meat and milk;
  • Low level of cheese, eggs, red meat and sausages;
  • Occasional consumption of sweets and sugary drinks.
  • Fish oil
  • Fish oil, especially freshwater fish (such as wild salmon, trout), but also sea oil (such as tuna, cod, sardine) rich in omega 3 has beneficial effects on the whole body.


Several studies have shown that its fatty acid intake acts as an anti-inflammatory and is particularly useful for alleviating joint pain, thus allowing the reduction of NSAID consumption. To this end, the twice-weekly consumption of quality freshwater fish is recommended.



In addition to other vegetables, the every day diet should not miss cruciferous vegetables, such as different types of cabbage, cauliflower, Savoy cabbage, broccoli, rocket, turnips, radish.

They are rich in vitamins, fiber and antioxidants, such as sulforaphane, a substance – discovered about ten years ago in broccoli – that blocks an enzyme that causes pain and inflammation. The positive effects of sulforaphane on joint health have been demonstrated, particularly in patients with arthritis and athletes.


Spices, herbs and green tea

Turmeric and ginger are spices known for their anti-inflammatory properties. In particular, turmeric has been used in rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis.

Green tea is one of the most consumed beverages in the world and has long been proven to have a beneficial effect on health. Thanks to polyphenols it has anti-inflammatory properties, useful in cases of arthritis.