Can your diet improve arthritis?

Despite the many claims of miracle supplements or foods, the cold, hard truth is there is no cure for arthritis.

However, some foods and lifestyle changes may help.

Like many conditions, a healthy, balanced diet is the best option to maintain optimal health, but there are some foods that work well for arthritis in that framework.

But first, what is arthritis? It’s a condition that covers the swelling or tenderness of your joints. The most common types are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis causes the cartilage between the joints to break down and rheumatoid arthritis is a disease in which the immune system attacks the joints, beginning with the lining of the joints.

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There are two main nutrients to focus on to improve arthritis.

Healthy fats

Choosing healthy fats can help ease the symptoms of arthritis.

According to Arthritis Australia, while the effects of eating healthier fats are modest compared to prescription medicines, they don’t have any risky side-effects and can actually have other health benefits such as a reduced risk of heart disease and weight loss.

The types of fats you should concentrate on include monounsaturated fats such as vegetable oils, avocados and many nuts and seeds.

Studies have shown that omega-3 fats can also reduce inflammation. And foods rich in this fat include oily fish and oily fish supplements, linseed, canola oil and walnuts.

Fish oil can interfere with some medications, so if you plan on taking high dose supplements check with your doctor first.

Fats to avoid include saturated fats as found in red meat, poultry and full fat dairy products.

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Vitamin C

A study has found that vitamin C and its derivatives play a vital role in maintaining and producing collagen, which makes up a major part of cartilage, a vital component of joints and the loss of which leads to osteoarthritis.

Foods high in vitamin C include citrus fruit but also capsicums, strawberries, tomatoes and white potatoes.

Other good sources of vitamin C include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and cherries.

Possibly the best source is an Australian native. Kakadu plums have the highest concentration of vitamin C of any fruit or vegetable and contain 100 times more vitamin C than oranges.

Lose weight

The simplest way to improve the symptoms of arthritis, but one of the hardest to achieve, is losing weight.

Carrying extra kilos can put stress on the joints, especially the knees, feet, hips and lower back.

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And if you need any more motivation to lose weight, regular exercise can also help to keep arthritic joints flexible, so it’s a double whammy for treatment.

Swimming and exercise such as water aerobics are ideal as the buoyancy further reduces stress on the joints.

According to Arthritis New South Wales, 3.9 million Australians suffer from some form of arthritis, which represents about one in six people.

That number is expected to rise to 5.4 million by 2030.

Arthritis is also the leading cause of chronic pain and the second most common cause of disability and early retirement due to ill health in Australia.

Do you suffer from arthritis? What do you do to improve your symptoms? Why not share your tips in the comments section below?

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.


  1. A typical nutritious diet, keeping my weight in check, and getting some exercise from playing tennis etc works for me. I’m 73 and have suffered osteoarthritis for decades taking Celebrex as needed. But no longer need that, since discovering that a daily dose of turmeric and fish oil has much the same pain relief effect as the medicine did. Not saying it will work for everyone but it works for me in combination with what I outlined in the first sentence. I should add that occasionally I do still get severe pain but that’s from twisting or straining by body doing things that I shouldn’t !

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