Arthritis and the Anti-Inflammatory Diet for Senior Care

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Arthritis is an umbrella term for diseases related to inflammation of the joints and its neighboring tissues and muscles. There are more than 100 forms of arthritis that affect elderly individuals. However, some of the common ones that typically affect our elderly loved ones include osteoarthritis, gout, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Arthritis and Its Link to Healthy Eating

Most of us may not link arthritis to a healthy eating practice, but the fact is something else, certain foods can really help alleviate the pain and inflammation associated with the condition. The following are some of the tips for formulating an anti-inflammatory diet for arthritis:

  • Spices: Spices not only add flavor to the diet but also are beneficial from the point of view of their anti-inflammatory properties. Some examples of the spices include turmeric, garlic, cinnamon; black pepper, ginger, cayenne, saffron, and cloves are known to be the best pals for alleviating the inflammation due to arthritis. These are the spices that are commonly available at our home and should be made a regular part of the diet of the elderly. These spices contain active ingredients that are known to possess anti-inflammatory properties, which in turn help significantly in lowering inflammation and pain due to arthritis.

  • Fish: Fish is an excellent source of omega – 3 fatty acids and research confirm that regular consumption of fish helps insignificant reduction of inflammatory proteins such as interleukin – 6 and C – reactive protein. However, if you do not like fish, then you can even consider taking fish oil supplements regularly. Some of the best-known sources include tuna, salmon, anchovies, sardines, scallops, herring and other types of cold-water fish. Experts claim that taking fish oil supplements regularly helps in fighting arthritic joint pain, eliminates inflammation and also greatly reduces pain and stiffness in the joint.

  • Fruits and vegetables: An intake of 5 – 6 servings of fruits and vegetables daily is recommended. Citrus fruits and dark-colored vegetables are high in antioxidant content. Some of the examples include oranges, lime, and grapefruits, that are rich in vitamin C, which in turn makes them perfect for eliminating arthritic pain, stiffness and inflammation in the joints. Dark-colored vegetables are especially rich in antioxidants. The idea is, the darker the color, the better is the antioxidant profile. Vegetables include spinach, kale, lettuce, broccoli, and cabbage, which significantly reduce the levels of inflammatory proteins in the blood.

  • Whole grains: Whole grains are a great source of fiber and research confirms that getting a healthy dose of fiber regularly, miraculously lowers the levels of C- reactive proteins. Some examples of grains, which needs to be made an important part of daily diet includes wheat flour, quinoa, oats, bulgur, and brown rice. Make sure you give your elderly loved ones, those sources of grains, which have the entire grain kernel in them. Having whole grains is a good idea, however, the elderly should also watch for those sources that contain gluten in them. This is because gluten is known to trigger inflammatory reactions in the body, giving rise to the development of arthritis. Refined and processed foods do more harm to the body than any good, and therefore, you need to focus more on whole foods and grains.

  • Beans: Beans are an excellent source of proteins and also play a vital role in decreasing the inflammatory proteins in the body. Thus, helping in curbing the pain and inflammation due to arthritis. Beans should be consumed at least twice a week and some of the common sources include kidney beans, small red beans, and pinto beans. These sources of beans have been ranked in the top 4 highest antioxidant containing foods.

  • Olive oil: Olive oil is considered to be one of the best oils for cooking. It is not only a great source of healthy fats but is also pretty rich in antioxidants. Olive oil contains a compound known as oleocanthal, which possesses action similar to anti-inflammatory drugs. This compound thus helps in lowering inflammation, thereby reducing the associated pain and sensitivity due to arthritis.

Nightshade Vegetables – to Eat or Not to Eat? 

Nightshade vegetables include tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and red bell peppers. These vegetables contain a compound known as solanine, which is known to trigger arthritic pain in some elderly. However, there is no scientific evidence confirming such a phenomenon. Moreover, these sources of vegetables possess disease-fighting properties and are known to boost immunity.

Whether the vegetables of the nightshade family trigger arthritic pain still remains a mystery. While some elderly report to get some relief in pain and stiffness when they avoid these vegetables, there are some who have reported no change in pain and other symptoms. Therefore, whether or not to consume the vegetables of the nightshade family, continues to be a personal choice.

Consume these foods, as part of a well-rounded diet to treat symptoms of inflammation due to arthritis and help prevent some of the wear and tear associated with aging will help in the long run.

About the author

Tena Scallan is a passionate healthcare professional, business owner and published author with over 25 years of experience in the healthcare industry. Tena has dedicated her life’s work to working in hospitals, running her own in-home caregiving agency and providing coaching and guidance for family caregivers. Tena firmly believes that both home and lifestyle can be preserved by in-home compassionate caregiving in the face of aging or illness. Check out her site here.