The Link Between Nutrition & Arthritis

  • Nature's Source

Our bones and joints play a very important role in our everyday lives. They’re what help us move freely, whether that’s dancing, walking, sitting, standing, or even writing! That’s why it’s so essential to keep them healthy. And an important part of maintaining healthy joints is eating a nutritious and well-rounded diet.

Whole foods like fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients and vitamins that maintain our joint health and even help alleviate symptoms of certain joint-related conditions. However, certain foods such as those that are highly processed can be harmful to our bodies. This is especially true for those with arthritis.

Let’s start by discussing what arthritis is, how nutrition can impact arthritis, and what to eat to improve your joint health.

What is arthritis?

Simply put, arthritis is the chronic inflammation affecting one or more of your joints. The most common type of arthritis in Canada is osteoarthritis (OA), and it affects 1 in 7 adults. OA typically impacts the joints in your hands, feet, hips, knees, and spine, causing symptoms like pain, stiffness and swelling in your joints, and reduced range for joint motion.

What happens to the body during OA?

Cartilage coats and protects the ends of our bones so that our joints can move freely. When an individual has osteoarthritis, the joint cartilage gets broken down, affecting the whole joint and eventually the bone underneath. 

For most individuals, OA occurs when healthy joints undergo heavy physical workloads over a long period of time. For others who may have had a joint-related condition from birth or a previous joint-related injury, even regular physical work can cause damage and result in OA. Additionally, the risk of OA increases with age. That being said, eating plenty of healthy, whole foods and eliminating certain inflammatory foods can promote the health of your joints and potentially alleviate some of those painful symptoms.

Nutrition’s impact on arthritis and joint health

Food can either be healing or harmful. And that all depends on what your diet consists of. For example, if you’re consuming a well-rounded diet filled with whole fruits and vegetables, you’re feeding your joints all the essential nutrients they need to stay healthy. On the other hand, a diet that’s heavily based on processed and packaged foods can have a negative impact on your joint health. 

Inflammatory foods

Foods such as those high in added sugars, processed foods, fried foods and alcohol tend to increase symptoms of arthritis. This is because when you have arthritis, your body is already in an inflammatory state. And eating these foods can increase inflammation in various parts of the body, further aggravating existing inflammation in the joints.

That’s why trying to limit the number of inflammatory foods you consume can help alleviate arthritis symptoms. Here are some foods to avoid:

  • Foods with added sugars – Candy, soda, and ice cream
  • Packaged foods – Red meat, fast food, and breakfast cereal
  • Foods with gluten – Wheat, barley, and rye
  • Foods high in salt – Chips, canned soup, and pizza
  • Alcohol

Foods good for joint health

Just as foods can harm our health, there are certain nutrients that can help us heal and improve symptoms of arthritis. If you’re looking to reduce the painful symptoms of arthritis, try including more of the foods that contain these nutrients in your diet.

Vitamin D 

Having low levels of vitamin D has been associated with a risk of OA. On top of that, some studies show that OA can get worse three times as fast in people with inadequate vitamin D when compared to those who do get enough vitamin D.

This vitamin is known to help our bodies absorb calcium, which is essential in building strong bones. Vitamin D is commonly known as the “sunshine vitamin” because it’s synthesized by the body when the sun’s UVB rays strike the skin. It is possible to get vitamin D from your diet by including foods like oily fishes, egg yolks, and beef liver into your regular rotation. That being said, many people struggle to get adequate vitamin D from food alone – you can also opt for a supplement.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids 

Omegas help reduce inflammation in the body by inhibiting an enzyme called cyclooxygenase that produces prostaglandin hormones, which are the primary hormones behind inflammation.

Increasing your intake of omega-3s can help you fight the inflammation in your body and ultimately alleviate arthritis symptoms. Some foods rich in omega-3s include salmon, sardines, and mackerel.


Did you know that collagen makes up approximately 70% of the body’s cartilage? Collagen, a protein that’s synthesized in the body, is found all over the body from your teeth to your toenails. But production of collagen begins to decline as we age, which can result in things like wrinkles, sagging skin, weakened muscles and creaky, sore joints. Taking collagen peptides (especially peptides that are formulated specifically for joint health) can help increase collagen production at the joints and keep joint cartilage tissue healthy.

Although arthritis may be a chronic condition, closely monitoring your diet by avoiding inflammatory foods and increasing your intake of vitamin D, omega-3s and collagen can help reduce your arthritis symptoms. These powerful nutrients can help you take your first step in keeping your bones and joints healthy and strong!