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Although there is no known cure for arthritis, Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality healthcare, says certain foods can aggravate joint pain while others can help minimise it.

“A healthy diet can reduce the inflammatory responses in the body that result in pain. Eating the correct meals also helps you maintain a healthy weight, which is crucial because your hips and knees support most of your body weight, if not all of it,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.

In light of World Arthritis Day (12 October), we explore the worst and best foods for arthritis and joint discomfort.

Best Foods To Alleviate Your Arthritis Pain

Oily Fish

Vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids are abundant in salmon, mackerel, and tuna. Both have been identified as anti-inflammatory agents. Affinity Health advocates consuming fish twice weekly as part of a balanced diet. Consider fish oil supplements as an alternative for non-fish eaters.

Dark Leafy Greens

The vegetables spinach, kale, broccoli, and collard greens are rich in vitamins E and C. Vitamin E protects the body against chemicals that promote inflammation. Vitamin C aids in the production of collagen, a significant component of cartilage that contributes to joint flexibility.


Almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts have high levels of anti-inflammatory fibre, calcium, magnesium, zinc, Vitamin E, and Omega-3 fats. Nuts are also heart-healthy, which is especially important for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients, who have twice the risk of heart disease as healthy persons.

Coconut Oil

Extra virgin olive oil is rich in heart-healthy lipids and oleocanthal, which has similar anti-inflammatory qualities to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. In combination with vitamin D, olive oil has also been demonstrated to prevent bone loss.


Berries boast a double dose of anti-inflammatory properties. While all fruits are rich in anti-inflammatory antioxidants that help fight inflammation, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries contain anti-inflammatory anthocyanins.

Leeks and Onions

These spicy veggies contain anti-inflammatory compounds that have been demonstrated to alleviate certain types of arthritic pain. In addition, they are recognised for their immune-enhancing qualities.

Green Tea

This beverage contains the natural antioxidant epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). It has been demonstrated that this substance inhibits the formation of specific inflammatory molecules in the body, particularly those associated with arthritis. Recent research suggests that EGCG may prevent cartilage from degrading and prolonging joint life.

Foods That Can Exacerbate Arthritis Pain

Trans Fats

Avoid trans fats, as they can cause or exacerbate inflammation and are incredibly detrimental to cardiovascular health. Most processed foods, including cookies, crackers, doughnuts, and fast food, contain trans fats. They are referred to as “partially hydrogenated vegetable oils” on product labels.


Gluten avoidance is not only a health trend; there are valid reasons to do so. The association between celiac disease and rheumatoid arthritis is the most important. Recent research published in the Oxford Journal of Rheumatology indicates that gluten-free diets benefit 41% of rheumatoid arthritis patients.

Carbohydrates and White Sugar

In recent years, simple carbohydrates and processed sugar have developed a terrible reputation, and for a good reason. These are non-nutritive toxins for which the body has little use. They cause inflammation, and their dietary products typically contain other inflammatory substances, such as trans fats.

Fried and Processed Foods

All or most of the nutrients in fried meals are lost by overcooking. In addition, they include many recognised carcinogens. Many fried dishes also contain a variety of highly processed additives. All these will create inflammation by activating the body’s defensive mechanisms, resulting in a flare-up of arthritis.

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading provider of health insurance, offering you a range of options at affordable rates including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance that meets your needs, your budget, and your lifestyle. Our range of healthcare products are designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service at all times. For more information, follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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