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The 12 Best Foods to Ease Inflammation and Joint Pain

You already know that if you choose to eat a healthy diet, you’re more likely to live a longer, more active life than someone who fills up on unhealthy foods. However, researchers now think that what we eat has an even bigger effect on the dis-ease process than we may have thought.

That’s because, in recent years, scientists have connected a condition called

“chronic inflammation” with some of our most common and deadly diseases, including heart disease, stroke, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and more; as well as difficult and painful conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). I have been doing a fair amount of research into 'chronic inflammation, and thought i would share some of my findings with you. I hope it will be informative for some of you.

Chronic inflammation, in part, has been directly connected with our diet, finding that in some cases, what we eat can influence how much unhealthy inflammation we have going on inside us. Inflammation is a complicated process and scientists, don’t have all the answers yet but are still figuring out all the angles. What we do know are three things:

  • Chronic inflammation is dangerous, and it’s affecting more and more people every day

  • Though there are a number of factors that can contribute to the development of chronic inflammation, diet is definitely one of them

  • Some foods can make chronic inflammation worse, and some foods can make it better

We can use this knowledge to avoid foods that stimulate chronic inflammation and choose foods that we know can help quieten it down.

What Is Chronic Inflammation?

Chronic inflammation is a malfunction of the immune system that creates damage inside the body. When things are normal, the immune system works as your personal bodyguard. It protects you from germs, fights off illnesses, and helps heal cuts and scrapes. Whenever it senses something that can injure you, it calls together various cells and hormones that work to fix the problem.

Inflammation is a key component in the immune system’s process of healing. You see it in the redness and swelling that forms around a cut on your finger. That’s a sign that the immune system’s cells are gathering to rebuild and repair injured tissues. You see the same thing when a spot forms on your face. The redness and swelling are the immune system’s response to the bacteria that invaded your skin, the cells working together to force out the damaging bugs.

Most types of healthy inflammation are “acute,” or quick-acting. You hurt yourself, and they hurry in to solve the problem. Once the wound is healed, they relax, and the redness disappears. You develop a cold, and they hurry in, fight off the bacteria or the virus and make you well. Once the bugs are gone, the inflammatory process stops, and your symptoms disappear.

Chronic inflammation is a different form of inflammation. Instead of solving problems for you, it causes them. Instead of rushing in to heal the cut and then relaxing once the tissues have returned to normal, it continues to cause swelling and redness and pain, and the wound doesn’t heal. Instead of doing its job and then going away, it hangs around like an unwanted guest, causing a low-level disturbance that wears down organs and tissues over time.

It’s been called the “silent killer” and a “hidden time bomb” because it often doesn’t cause any symptoms but continues to operate under the radar for months and sometimes years. Because inflammation causes heat in the body, chronic inflammation has been called “the slow burn,” and can be thought of as a low-lying fire that gradually burns up cells and tissues and organs until the damage is irreversible.

What Causes Chronic Inflammation to Appear?

It can be difficult to determine why chronic inflammation starts in the first place. There are a number of factors that can cause it, including the following:

  • Being overweight or obese

  • Sedentary lifestyle or lack of exercise

  • Autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus

  • Chronic infections that don’t go away

  • Age, as the risk for chronic inflammation increases as you get older

  • Cellular distress

  • Chemical and metal toxins

  • Poor diet

  • Smoking

  • Periodontal disease

  • Sleep disorders

  • Chronic stress

There may be other factors at work, too, that cause inflammation to stick around. The longer it burns, the more damage it creates.

Signs You May Have Chronic Inflammation

Though chronic inflammation often exists without causing any symptoms, there are some signs that it may be present. In addition to the risk factors listed above, the following symptoms may also signal that you’ve got too much inflammation going on:

  • Chronic fatigue

  • Chronic aches and pains

  • Indigestion

  • Dry skin and acne

  • Psoriasis

  • Persistent allergies

  • High blood sugar levels

  • Gum disease

  • Depression

Doctors can test for inflammation. They look for certain “markers” in the blood that indicate the presence of inflammatory cells, and they also look at other health issues that often go hand-in-hand with inflammation:

  • Elevated levels of C-reactive protein (CRP)

  • High levels of homocysteine

  • Elevated ferritin in the blood

  • Elevated blood glucose levels

  • Elevated fasting blood insulin levels

  • Elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR): this test measures the rate at which red blood cells separate from the rest of the plasma; inflammation covers these cells in certain proteins, which will cause them to fall faster — a high ESR indicates inflammation

4 Types of Foods That Make Chronic Inflammation Worse

As we’ve learned more about inflammation and how it can cause unhealthy changes in the body, we’ve also learned that certain foods can “feed” chronic inflammation, like oxygen to a fire. When we eat these foods, we create a situation inside the body that is more “inflammation friendly,” increasing the chances that the inflammation will stick around.

Below are some of the most common foods that have been found in studies to promote inflammation.

1. Sugar Especially Fructose

Some studies have linked sugar with inflammation. In 2014, for example, researchers compared fructose — the type of sugar typically found in soft drinks, sweets, candy, and even in regular foods like yogurt, bread, and condiments — with glucose, the body’s preferred energy source. The body turns carbohydrates into glucose for energy.

Scientists already knew that fructose was more likely to be stored as fat than glucose and that it didn’t stimulate the release of insulin as well as glucose. Simply put, fructose is not as easy for the body to process as glucose is. Try to limit or avoid foods high in fructose, including:

  • Soft drinks

  • Foods with “high fructose corn syrup” in the ingredient list

  • Candy

  • Condiments with high fructose corn syrup, like salad dressing and ketchup (choose organic versions instead)

  • Sweetened yogurt (go for plain and sweeten with your own real fruit)

  • Frozen junk foods

  • Bread (choose organic for less sugar)

  • Canned fruit

  • Some breakfast cereals (read labels)

  • Store-bought baked goods

  • Processed snack foods (look for healthier brands)

2. Refined Grains

Refined grains are whole grains that have been stripped of many of their healthy nutrients. They are processed to remove the bran and germ, to give the grain a finer texture and to improve shelf life. Important nutrients like fibre, iron, and B vitamins are lost in the process, resulting in a product that is less nutritious and possibly even damaging to health.

Refined grains are used as white flour in a number of common food products you’ll find in the grocery store, including white bread. Studies have found that these types of grains are associated with inflammation.

When researchers compared these grains against whole grains (with the bran and germ still present), for example, they found that while whole grains reduced inflammatory markers, refined grains increased them. Often these products are made with additional sugar, too, which can increase their inflammatory tendencies. Avoid or limit the following:

  • White bread

  • White pasta

  • White rice

  • Pastries made with white flower

  • Donuts and bagels

  • Cereals made with white flower (not whole grain)

3. Unhealthy Saturated Fats & Trans-fats

Foods with super unhealthy trans-fats have been directly connected with inflammation.

Meals that are high in unhealthy saturated fats can also promote inflammation. Scientists have discovered that when you eat a high-fat meal, such as one you might get from a fast-food restaurant, it stimulates a rise in inflammatory toxins in the blood.

Avoid or limit the following types of high-fat and trans-fat foods:

  • Fried foods

  • Junk food

  • Processed snack foods (chips and crackers)

  • French fries

  • Baked goods with hydrogenated oil

  • Butter and margarine

  • Shortening

  • Cream sauces

  • Palm oil

4. Processed Meats & Red Meat

You may enjoy a hot dog once in a while at the baseball game but try not to make a habit of it. Studies have found that processed meats, in general, are likely to encourage inflammatory reactions in the body.

Processed meat is meat that has been changed with salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or other processes to enhance flavour and shelf life. These types of meats have been classified as carcinogens by the World Health Organisation and have been linked in several studies to an increased risk of colon cancer. Some studies have also linked high intakes with stomach cancer.

Scientists aren’t sure why these meats may increase the risk of cancer, but they believe that products used in processing (like nitrates and nitrites) are likely to be involved, as well as the tendency for these products to increase inflammation.

People who were overweight or who have other risk factors seemed more likely to experience increased inflammation after eating red meat.

Those who eat it several times per week can look to replacing just one portion of meat with fish or poultry, for example, lower their risk of an inflammatory bowel condition by 20 percent (so one study showed).

Avoid or limit these types of foods:

  • Fatty red meat; instead choose lean cuts, and organic, grass-fed beef

  • Hot dogs

  • Bacon and sausage

  • Lunch meats and deli meats

  • Pepperoni

12 Foods That Help Tame Chronic Inflammation

In addition to avoiding foods in the groups listed above, you can choose to add more of the following foods to your diet to tame any inflammation you may already have, and to prevent more from developing.

Particularly if you are already suffering from inflammation in some way — maybe you have arthritis, heart disease, psoriasis, or other similar inflammation-related conditions — consuming more of these foods may help you to feel better.

1. Salmon, Walnuts, Chia Seeds & Other Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Salmon and other types of fatty fish like anchovies, tuna, mackerel, sardines, and herring are all good sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which are natural anti-inflammatories.

Omega-3 fatty acids are so effective at taming inflammation that they were found to help reduce pain just as well as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) like aspirin and ibuprofen in one 2006 study.

These fatty acids decrease the production of inflammatory compounds and even reduce the number of free radicals in the body. They also alter the expression of inflammatory genes and help produce other anti-inflammatory substances.

Other foods rich in anti-inflammatory essential fatty acids include:

  • Walnuts

  • Flaxseeds, chia seeds and hemp seeds

  • Cod liver oil

  • Oysters

  • Soybeans

  • Egg yolks

2. Oatmeal, Bran Flakes & Other Whole Grains

Whole grains are related to lower levels of inflammation. In one 2006 study, researchers found that healthy men and women who consumed whole grains showed no increases in inflammation, and also had reduced levels of total cholesterol.

Exceptions may occur, however, in people who have celiac disease and can’t digest wheat, or in those who have sensitivities to certain types of grains. In this population, consuming whole grains may cause inflammation and intestinal damage.

If you find that you experience fatigue or digestive upset after eating any whole grain, check with your doctor to see if you may have a grain sensitivity. Those without these sensitivities can use whole grains as a way to keep inflammation at bay. Choose foods like:

  • Oatmeal

  • Whole-grain bread

  • Whole-grain pasta

  • Whole-grain rice

  • Air-popped popcorn

  • Whole rye, buckwheat and barley

  • Quinoa

  • Bulgur

  • Whole-wheat couscous

  • Whole corn

3. Tart Cherries

Sports researchers discovered several years ago that tart cherries have amazing anti-inflammatory properties. They found that when women aged 40 to 70 who had inflammatory osteoarthritis drank tart cherry juice twice daily for three weeks, they experienced significant reductions in inflammatory markers in their blood.

4. Green Tea and Black Tea

Green tea contains a lot of powerful antioxidants that are beneficial for health. One of those antioxidants, called “epigallocatechin (EGC),” is effective at taming inflammation, too.

Researchers studied postmenopausal women and found that green tea was helpful in reducing inflammation, which also helped the women avoid bone loss. In another study, they determined that both green and black tea “possessed a marked anti-inflammatory effect,” with green tea being even more active than black tea.

5. Avocados and Avocado Oil

Avocados have the unique capability of suppressing two chemicals that cause inflammation in the body: nitric oxide synthase (INOS) and cyclooxygenase (COX-2).

Advocados have also been found to have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as containing healthy fats that have been linked with lowered cholesterol levels.

6. Pineapple

Pineapples contain an enzyme called “bromelain” that not only assists in digestion but has also demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties.

In 2010, for example, researchers reported that subjects who regularly consumed fresh pineapple juice showed decreased colon inflammation scores and other markers of reduced inflammation. In a 2012 study, researchers also noted that bromelain has many benefits, including the ability to help relieve osteoarthritis pain.

7. Onions & Garlic

Both of these contain compounds that help relieve inflammation. They both seem to work by inhibiting the action of certain inflammatory elements, stopping the inflammation process before it starts. This action has been found to help prevent cancerous tumors from forming. In a 2014 study, for instance, researchers reported that garlic encouraged anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects that “aid in priming the organism towards eradication of an emerging tumor.”

Onions are also rich sources of antioxidants and flavonoids that help inhibit inflammation-causing compounds that are typically active in arthritis. Both onions and garlic also contain organosulfur compounds that help prevent the formation of pro-inflammatory messengers.

8. Spinach

Spinach contains health-supportive nutrients called “glycoglycerolipids” that have been found in studies to help protect the digestive tract from damaging inflammation.

Spinach is a really good source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, pantothenic acid, and other healthful flavonoids too, including lutein and zeaxanthin. All of these work together to keep inflammation at bay. In fact, these green leaves are often highly recommended for those with arthritis, because they can fight pain and inflammation.

9. Broccoli & Other Cruciferous Vegetables Like Cauliflower & Brussels Sprouts

All of these vegetables contain a compound called “sulforaphane,” which has been shown in studies to be just as effective at preventing joint pain as a COX-2 arthritis drug, without the side effects. Other studies have shown that broccoli florets exerted potent anti-inflammatory effects, and in a study of more than 1,000 women, researchers found that those who ate the most cruciferous vegetables had substantially less inflammation than those who ate the least.

Other good options in this category include pak choy, cabbage, and kale.

10. Strawberries, Raspberries, Blueberries & Other Berries

You’ve probably heard that berries are rich in healthful antioxidants. These antioxidants, in addition to protecting from cancer and other diseases, have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have found that flavonoids like anthocyanin, for example — which is responsible for the blue, purple, and red color seen in fruits — are particularly potent as anti-inflammatories. Flavonoids are concentrated in the skin and peel of the fruit and help protect the cells in the body from inflammatory damage.

Other good options include cranberries, goji berries, and blackberries. In general, go for one cup as a standard serving.

11. Turmeric

Many of the spices we regularly use to flavour foods have healthful benefits, but some are particularly powerful against inflammation. Turmeric, the main spice in curry, is one of the most effective and well researched.

Turmeric contains a component called “curcumin” that helps scavenge free radicals tied to inflammation. Numerous studies have found that it is effective at inhibiting a number of enzymes and other compounds that are involved in the inflammatory process. In one 2003 study, researchers noted that turmeric “may exert its anti-inflammatory activity by inhibition of a number of different molecules that play a role in inflammation.”

Add more turmeric to your cooked dishes or consider a supplement (I take one turmeric tablet every day!!)

12. Chilli Peppers

Chilli peppers contain a component called capsaicin, which has been shown in studies to inhibit the activation of pro-inflammatory factors. In one study, researchers noted that it may be a promising drug candidate “for ameliorating inflammatory diseases and cancer.”

Capsaicin is already used in many topical creams and ointments to help relieve muscle and joint pain. One capsaicin patch, for instance, helps provide pain relief for up to 12 weeks. Other studies have found that capsaicin may be effective in helping to relieve a stuffy nose because of its ability to tame sinus inflammation.

I know this has been rather a long blog! but for some of you it may hold certain possibilities or thoughts on how to deal with your body's inflammation.

As always, your doctor is your first point of call, but, none of the above food suggestions will cause any negative side effects, if anything can only be of benefit to your general health and well-being. so, a WIN-WIN I'd say.....!!!!!!!

Sent with light and blessings

Sharon x

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3 Σχόλια

A useful read, thank you! Xx

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02 Οκτ 2021

Thank you. Good useful information. I will look to add a few more foods to the existing menu. 🙏

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✨Sharon ✨
✨Sharon ✨
02 Οκτ 2021
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Thank you Carrolle ,,,, I am pleased you found the blog interesting,,,, I wanted to keep it simple,, and listed so that you can keep referring back to it time and time again 🙏

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