Rheumatoid arthritis is painful, but medication is not the only thing that can help. A proper diet of select veggies can also assist in alleviating RA symptoms.
By Dawn Flemming
An important part of managing arthritis is having a stable, natural source of antioxidants. Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints and an autoimmune disorder. Often times diets that are full of processed ingredients aggravate the already painful chronic inflammation that is present in the body.
Just as bad foods can make our symptoms worse, good foods can help us with healing and sometimes nothing is better than plain and good old veggies. Here are the top three veggies you should consider adding to your diet.
Dark Green Veggies
There are two types of veggies, the light kind like romaine lettuce and the dark kind like you find in broccoli. As a general rule, the darker the veggie, the more anti-inflammatory nutrients it packs. Remember, rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease so you may want to pack yourself with anti-inflammatory nutrients. So what foods should you eat? Arthritis.org recommends the following veggies when it comes to dark greens:
Green, leafy vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts, kale, Swiss chard and bok choy are packed with antioxidants like vitamins A, C and K, which protect cells from free-radical damage. These foods are also high in bone-preserving calcium. Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables (Brussels sprouts, cabbage, bok choy and cauliflower) offer another benefit – a natural compound called sulforaphane.
Why? Look at what the studies show:
Research on mice shows sulforaphane blocks the inflammatory process and might slow cartilage damage in osteoarthritis (OA). And there’s some evidence diets high in this vegetable family could prevent RA from developing in the first place.
Orange Colored Veggies
Orange colored veggies have something called “carotenoids” in them. These are elements which are highly anti-inflammatory as they are powerful antioxidants. Such veggies include sweet potatoes, carrots and squash. Research shows that carotenoids can have a positive effect on RA. Here is the conclusion they made:
These data are consistent with previous evidence showing that a modest increase in beta-cryptoxanthin intake, equivalent to one glass of freshly squeezed orange juice per day, is associated with a reduced risk of developing inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Red and Green Peppers
When you think of vitamin C, it’s likely that you think of oranges. Although oranges contain vitamin C, nothing beats peppers when it comes to the punch it packs with this vitamin. Vitamin C is critical for proper immune and inflammatory regulation in the body.
Studies are actually showing that even 1g of vitamin C can have an anti-inflammatory effect:
Our results indicate a clear effect of 1 g of vitamin C in alleviating inflammatory markers (hs-CRP and IL-6) among hypertensive and/or diabetic obese adults. Also, vitamin C strongly affected the level of FBG, significantly reducing it after 8 weeks of daily intake.
Now, remember that vitamin C is always best consumed through natural foods and not supplements.
Dawn Flemming is Director of Business Services at Geriatric In-Home Care in Fresno, California.