1. Sour Cherries
The power of antioxidants should not be underestimated, especially when it comes to their ability to reduce inflammation in the body. Though there are many antioxidant-rich foods out there, like berries and leafy greens, and all of them will help reduce inflammation in the body, one specific fruit - tart cherries - has been shown on several occasions to have a beneficial effect on joint pain specifically.
In one of these studies, patients suffering from osteoarthritis drank a glass of tart cherry juice for 6 weeks, and after the trial, they've shown significantly reduced inflammation and arthritis symptoms compared to placebo. Do keep in mind that tart cherry juice can be quite high in sugar, so limit your intake to one glass a day.
The other ingredient famous for its anti-inflammatory effects is omega-3 fatty acids, which are capable of reducing the level of inflammation in the body and reducing chronic pain by blocking COX & LOX enzymes, which are known to contribute to inflammation. The foods that contain the highest levels and most easily absorbable version of these beneficial fats are fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines, herring, and mackerel, and nutritionists recommend having at least 2 servings of these foods every week.
Ginger isn't just good for a sore and inflamed throat, as many people think, the pungent root is also excellent for reducing joining pain and inflammation. Gingerol, the active ingredient of ginger, has been shown to reduce arthritis-related joint pain and inflammation by 40% according to one study from the University of Miami. So, adding a spoonful or two of raw ginger a day into tea or just hot water won't hurt all year round, and not only in the winter.
4. Brussels Sprouts
Cruciferous veggies like broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, and cauliflower are a staple food in a healthy diet, and they are well known to benefit digestion and cardiovascular health. What most people don't realize is that this particular family of vegetables has active substances capable of blocking an enzyme that causes swelling in the joints, so anyone who is experiencing swelling or stiffness in the joints may really benefit from including these veggies in their diet daily.
Given the amazing variety of cruciferous veggies out there and the various ways you can prepare them, this task may be quite easy to accomplish.
Pineapples shouldn't only be consumed in pina coladas or on the controversial Hawaiian pizza. In fact, those suffering from joint pain may really enjoy the benefits this fruit offers. Apart from a high concentration of vitamin C, an excellent antioxidant, pineapples are also famous for their anti-inflammatory effects. This is because the fruit contains a substance called bromelain, which was shown to be as effective as ibuprofen for treating arthritis pain in studies. As an alternative, know that another yummy tropical fruit rich in both substances mentioned above is papaya.
6. Chili Peppers
One of the phytochemicals contained in hot peppers, such as chili peppers, habanero peppers, and others, is capsaicin. This ingredient has a unique property of binding to pain receptors in the brain, dulling the pain you’re experiencing when you're eating spicy foods or using medical aids that contain capsaicin.
By doing so, you will trick your brain into being less sensitive to pain. Topical patches and creams containing capsaicin, for example, were shown to decrease pain linked to arthritis, joint, and muscle pain. Learn more about the health benefits of chili peppers in a previous article titled Complete Health and Nutrition Guide to Chili Peppers.
Turmeric is a well known anti-inflammatory agent, one that has been used in Chinese medicine and Ayurveda for centuries, if not millennia. Studies likewise support these impressive effects, with the active ingredient in turmeric called curcumin being known for reducing joint stiffness related to arthritis and joint pain in general.
Studies show that the necessary dose for achieving a therapeutic effect is around 400mg three times a day, though, so just adding it into food might not be as effective as taking curcumin capsules. You can also combine turmeric with ginger and other spices to see a better therapeutic effect, with the most common recipe featuring both roots being the delicious Golden Milk.
Like turmeric and ginger, allium veggies, such as onions and garlic, too, have been used in traditional medicine with the goal of lowering the level of inflammation in the body. Apart from the anti-inflammatory effects, though, all of these roots and veggies are also well-known for their antimicrobial benefits, so throwing either of these in the different foods you prepare is always smart.
When it comes to garlic specifically, though, research shows that heat may reduce some of the beneficial effects, so make sure to add in the garlic as one of the last steps in the cooking process to preserve all the healthy goodness.
9. Dark Chocolate
Reading this, you might think, "now we're talking", but before you get too excited, we must point out that only chocolate with a very high concentration of cacao - at least 70% - has been shown to offer pain relief. This is because of the antioxidants present in cocoa powder, but not cocoa butter, milk, and any other additives, such as sugar. Milk chocolate and sweet dark chocolate typically have less cocoa, and more of these other ingredients, so make sure to opt for bitter dark chocolate and limit your intake to 1-2 little cubes a day as a rare treat.
10. Bone Broth
Bone broth is the last, but definitely not the least feature on this list, as the savory broth is extremely versatile and effective for joint pain and long-term bone health. In fact, broth contains 3 ingredients that help maintain healthy joints - glucosamine, chondroitin, and calcium. If you're wondering what bone broth is, it's an extremely cooked down and dense broth that appears when cooking meat on bones for hours.
This gelatin-like substance mimics collagen that's present naturally in our skin, joints, tendons and ligaments, and has been suggested to promote the production of collagen in the body. Since collagen production is known to reduce as we age, bone broth or supplements based on it will be able to promote long-term joint health, reduce joint pain and sooth the symptoms of arthritis. Bone broth can be added to rice, pasta, or any side dish instead of water while cooking, made into a gravy or sauce, or enjoyed in a soup.