While you may not view arthritis as a diet-related condition, the reality is, what you eat impacts your joints more than you think. Studies suggest certain foods could help alleviate arthritis pain and stiffness.

“Antioxidant-rich foods like fruits and vegetables, particularly those that are rich in vitamins C and E, may help reduce inflammation that is at the crux of many forms of arthritis,” says Karen Ansel, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Association of Nutrition and Dietetics. “On the flip side, it may also be beneficial to avoid inflammatory foods, such as red meat and full-fat dairy.”

Whether you’re trying to lose weight to reduce pressure on your joints or wondering which supplements and nutrient-rich foods can help mitigate arthritis pain, a registered dietitian (RD) can offer personalized guidance that also appeals to your taste buds.

What a Dietitian Can Do for You:

  • Help you lose weight

Excess body weight can increase arthritis-related pain. “In many cases, the most helpful dietary change for people suffering from osteoarthritis is a calorie-controlled diet, which can help them lose weight and relieve pressure on joints,” says Ansel. Unfortunately, with the preponderance of nutrition misinformation available, following such a diet isn’t always easy.

Even for the savviest health nut, navigating the murky seas of nutrition advice can be overwhelming. Fad diets may offer a quick fix, but they won’t sustain you for the long haul. What’s worse, you’re likely to gain back any lost weight – plus more, explains Ruth Frechman, RD and spokesperson for the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and author of The Food is My Friend Diet (Gales Publishing, 2012).

Using creative, out-of-the-box strategies, RDs can help you develop a safe and effective weight loss plan. They also will show you how to plan meals, shop for the most nutrient-rich foods and develop mindful eating practices, so nutrition becomes a source of pleasure, rather than confusion and anxiety.

  • Identify the best foods for your particular form of arthritis

Some medications prescribed for arthritis interfere with the absorption of important nutrients. Dietitians can help ensure you’re getting the most out of your food. They also can help you limit potentially harmful food components like saturated fat and sodium.

For people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or gout, consulting a dietitian can be especially beneficial, as certain foods have been shown to exacerbate (or alleviate) these conditions, explains Ansel. “Fish, which can be beneficial for people with RA, can actually lead to gout flare ups, while milk can reduce the risk of gout, but if it’s full-fat, it can increase inflammation for people who have RA.”