Joint pain is one of the most common medical complaints in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In most cases, it is the knee that’s affected, which is not surprising considering that it is a complex joint that bears a lot of weight and is involved in so many movements. While over-the-counter medications are the go-to remedies, there’s increasing scientific evidence that some foods can also relieve sore joints.
Besides spicing up curries, turmeric contains a compound called curcumin that can help relieve joint pain. Curcumin has long been used to treat a variety of health problems, including arthritis. It helps to block the production of substances in the body that contribute to inflammation, including nuclear factor-kappa B and tumor necrosis factor, according to Smart Publications. Curcumin can also relieve morning stiffness, according to a study published in “Alternative Medicine Review.” While you can benefit from curcumin’s joint-healing benefits by eating more curry, taking a supplement may provide more relief.
This herb is a member of the lily family and is a favorite in Asian cooking. Its active compounds, gingerols, have anti-inflammatory properties that help fight swelling and pain. It’s long been used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis symptoms, including chronic pain, according to the “Knee Crisis Handbook.” In its raw form or tea, ginger may provide mild relief, but it’s more effective in standardized extract form.
Fish oil was hailed for its heart-protecting benefits long before it was used to treat joint problems. According to the “Knee Crisis Handbook,” cod liver oil was an arthritis remedy as far back as the 1700s. Fish oil — which can also be found in salmon, tuna and herring — contains high amounts of omega-3 essential fatty acids, which are also effective anti-inflammatories. Taking essential fatty acids may also be able to reduce the amount of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs you need to take to control joint pain and inflammation.
A study conducted at the University of East Anglia, or UEA, revealed that this cruciferous vegetable may help prevent and relieve osteoarthritis. Like other vegetables, broccoli is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. The UEA researches found that broccoli also contains a compound called sulforaphane, which blocks enzymes that cause joint damage in osteoarthritis.
Foods that soothe aching joints may be safer ways to treat joint pain compared to over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers, but they’re not completely without risks. For instance, too much ginger can cause heartburn or diarrhea, and eating too much fish may expose you to high levels of toxins, including mercury. Consult your doctor for more advice on making dietary changes to relieve sore joints.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: New Report Finds Pain Affects Millions of Americans
- “The Knee Crisis Handbook”; Brian Halpern, M.D., Laura Tucker; 2003
- Smart Publications: Curcumin from Turmeric Shows Promise for Arthritis Sufferers
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- ScienceDaily: Eating Broccoli Could Guard Against Arthritis
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Ginger
- Lauren Burke/Photodisc/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.