Food is so much more than the energy you need to get you through the day. Healthy nutrition is not only fuel for your daily life, but can have a powerful healing effect on your body as well. If you suffer from arthritis, the food you eat can play just as significant a role as the medications you take to relieve your joint pain.

While conventional medical management of arthritis usually begins with anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen, you don’t have to go any further than your dinner table for some of the best natural remedies for arthritis available.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

This polyunsaturated fat is a bit of a celebrity in the world of nutrition these days. Its anti-inflammatory benefits have been studied extensively, the results of which have been highly publicized.

Studies have shown that omega-3 fish oils can reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. They diminish inflammation by suppressing the production of cytokines and enzymes that erode cartilage. Among the demonstrated improvements are an increase in strength and a decrease in joint pain, swelling, and stiffness.

While research on the effects of fish oil on osteoarthritis is less extensive, results have been promising. For example, a 2005 study from the Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, examined 250 osteoarthritis patients given similar doses of fish oil. The participants reported significant improvement in overall pain, with no ill effects from the fish oil.

Salmon is probably the first food recommendation for omega-3 fatty acids, since it’s the most popular. However, if you’re more adventurous, herring, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies are also wonderful sources of omega-3. If you want to make sure you are getting ample amounts, consider a potent omega-3 supplement for arthritis.

Olive Oil

A few years back the Mediterranean diet received a lot of press for the health benefits of some of the more prominent ingredients in the foods of that region. One such dietary staple is olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil has high levels of the antioxidant phenol compounds. Studies have also found that the oleocanthal compound in extra-virgin olive oil prevents the production of the pro-inflammatory COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes, in much the same way  nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) do. The benefit is, of course, this is a natural approach as opposed to the potential negative side effects associated with over-the-counter or prescription drugs.

But wait, there’s more: A recent study out of Spain has even found that the health benefits of olive oil may extend to altering genes involved in inflammatory conditions that lead to everything from arthritis to heart disease.

Herbs and Spices

The value of the herbs and spices we use to give a little zing to our meals is generally misunderstood. Most people think of them only in terms of how they can add flavor, but many of them have significant nutritional benefits as well. In fact, some spices have anti-inflammatory effects, so don’t miss out on their potential as a treatment for arthritis.

Some of the most promising spices to include in your arthritis-fighting regimen are ginger, boswellia and turmeric. Ginger contains chemicals that work like anti-inflammatory medications. More specifically, studies have shown that ginger extract inhibits TNF-alpha, COX-2, and lipoxygenase, all involved in the body’s inflammatory response.

Turmeric, also sometimes referred to as curcumin, is a major component of Indian curries, but also responsible for the yellow color of mustard. Studies have shown that turmeric can help arthritis by suppressing inflammatory chemicals in the body. A resin extracted from the boswellia herb has also been found to support healthy inflammatory response. Both of these pain-relieving ingredients work well together in herbal pain management.

Author's Bio: 

IllumiNutri was founded by physician and pain management specialist Dr. Stephen H. Barkow and nutritionist Pamina Barkow. The company offers holistic supplements that address a broad range of pain and inflammatory issues.