Joint Pain & Inflammation – Are Your Food Choices to Blame?
By Cassie Weness, RD, LD
January 15, 2019
Are your achy knees the reason you can’t sign up for the basketball league or neighborhood 5K? Or do you wake up each morning so achy it’s hard to just get out of bed? Or perhaps you’re one of millions living with arthritis or battling chronic sinus infections?
All these health conditions have something in common, inflammation (which is a fancy word for pain.) So what is causing all of this inflammation? As a registered dietitian, I’ve studied this and worked with many individuals to break this cycle of pain and inflammation naturally, without relying on pain medications.
Let’s start with the end in mind; how great would it feel to return to your favorite pastimes with little to no discomfort? Play tennis again, get on the floor with your grandkids or go hiking all without the agony that is typically created by inflammation!
How? The equation is simple, reduce or eliminate the foods and beverages that fuel the inflammation fire. Here are some examples of items to cut out:
- Beer and other alcoholic beverages
- Coffee mochas and other high sugar drinks
- High sugar foods and processed carbs (cookies, cake, candy, granola bars, crackers, etc.)
- Foods containing refined oils (soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, canola oil, etc.)
- Gluten grains (foods containing wheat, barley, rye and most oats)
- Dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, etc.)
Not only does research tells us that sugar causes inflammation, but in 2016, the journal Lipids correlated soybean oil and other refined vegetable oils with an increase in risk factors for heart disease, such as inflammation of the blood vessels and unhealthy cholesterol numbers. Beyond the research, many years of clinical experience have shown that food choices directly affect levels of pain and inflammation in the body.
As a dietitian, I have seen people’s lives change dramatically when they eliminate these items and switch to eating real food in balance. This means meals (three a day) and snacks (two to three a day) that contain no man-made or processed foods. No skipping meals!
Eat This, Not That
For lunch, eat this, salad with greens, tomatoes, carrots, onions, walnuts, chicken and olive oil / balsamic vinegar dressing. Skip this, sub sandwich with chips and soda.
For an afternoon snack, eat this, two or three deviled egg halves, with handful of grapes. Skip this, cookie or donut as afternoon snack.
Don’t be overwhelmed; making dietary changes doesn’t need to be scary. Most people with pain and inflammation just need help getting started on an eating plan that is right for their body’s needs.
For dedicated support, consider setting up a phone or in-person nutrition consultation with one of our nutritionists. We’re here to help you every step of the way.