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Reducing the Effects of Arthritis

More than 350 million individuals worldwide are affected by arthritis and joint diseases. In the U.S., nearly 43 million people, which is approximately 20% of the population, are affected.

What is arthritis?

Arthritis is a condition described as the stiffening of joints that is caused by some type of inflammation. Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are the two most common types of arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease in which the immune system attacks the joints. Certain nutrients are beneficial in reducing the symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis, including omega-3-fatty acids, phytochemicals and antioxidants.

Osteoarthritis is another form of arthritis. This form of the disease is caused by the breakdown of cartilage, the tissue covering the ends of bones.


How are inflammation and arthritis linked?
The presence of inflammation in the body is closely associated with arthritis. Inflammation occurs due to a present injury or illness. It is our body’s way of fighting off injury in an area of the body or infected immune system. Inflammation may go unnoticed, which may lead to more complications, such as joint pain or swelling.

An inflammatory response is a signal your body sends in response to infection, wounds, illness or trauma. With arthritis, joint areas may turn red and hot during an inflammatory response. A buildup of plaque in the arteries can lead to inflammation, too. Fortunately, chronic inflammation can be improved.


How can I reduce inflammation?

Have you experienced inflammation? What factors other than your eating habits are contributing to inflammation? How about smoking, lack of physical activity or weight management? Smoking damages the blood vessels, which could lead to heart conditions. You can lower your risk for heart disease by quitting smoking.

Regular physical activity can lessen inflammation in the body. Adding a moderate form of exercise, such as brisk walking, to the day can be very beneficial. Maintaining a healthy weight also is recommended.

A plant-based diet is recommended for people with arthritis. People experienced improvements in overall pain, swollen joints, morning stiffness and overall health when following a plant-based diet. Lessening the symptoms of arthritis can lead to an improved quality of life.


What foods should I eat – or avoid -- to improve arthritis symptoms?

Foods with a high antioxidant level are anti-inflammatory. Eat more of these:

● Avocados

● Green leafy vegetables

● Berries

● Lentils

● Ginger

● Turmeric

● Green tea


Omega-3-fatty acids are beneficial at lowering inflammation. Foods that fall into this category include:

● Salmon

● Tuna

● Mackerel

● Pecans

● Walnuts

● Ground flaxseed

● Soy


Limit foods that may increase the inflammation present in the body. These include:

● Red meat

● Pastries

● Sugary cereals

● Deep-fried foods


Ally Eikmeier, Dietetic Intern, NDSU Extension

Reviewed/edited by Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., Food and Nutrition Specialist





Andwele, M. (n.d.). Eat Right for Your Type of Arthritis. Retrieved from

Arthritis. (2019, July 19). Retrieved from

What is an inflammation? (Feb. 22, 2018). Retrieved from

How to use food to help your body fight inflammation. (Aug. 13, 2019). Retrieved from


Sponsored in part by the Sanford Health Foundation.

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