My Cart

Can A Vegan Diet Help With Arthritis?

If you've been thinking of making the switch to a vegan diet, you're probably aware of all of the benefits that come along with it. But did you know that a vegan diet can also aid with certain medical conditions or ailments?

Do You Suffer From Arthritis?

Some people with arthritis pain may find that a vegan diet can help them to limit certain food triggers while also improving overall digestion and easing joint pain.

In the past few decades, arthritis has been one of the most common conditions among Canadian adults over the age of 65. In fact, 1 in 5 adults suffers from arthritis symptoms. And in each successive year, it is expected to become even more prevalent.

However, what many people don't realize is how a vegan diet, with its abundance of fresh produce and minimal animal products, could actually improve joint health. We know what you may be thinking - the connection between a plant-based diet and better joint health might seem a bit odd considering that red meat and eggs are typically heralded for their high protein content, but proteins aren't just found in those ingredients.

How A Plant-Based Diet Can Help With Arthritis & Other Autoimmune Diseases

When it comes to easing joint inflammation, even with rheumatoid arthritis, eating a plant-based diet can definitely come into play. This is because certain foods that are high in proteins have been found to trigger an autoimmune response. These inflammatory reactions escalate the body's natural defence mechanisms which cause swelling and pain as you'd expect when your immune system is under attack.

Recognizing this link between proteins and increasing immune responses can help people find out what types of food trigger their arthritis symptoms so they can then go about avoiding those problem foods.

Fresh, low-fat vegan salad with spinach and legumes

Of course, you don't have to completely stop eating animal products to achieve these results, but there are many different vegan recipes that can help you to develop arthritis-friendly meals. In addition, the most important step is learning what types of food your body reacts to most. Once you've determined that, it's time to start your dietary changes.

Fruits and Vegetables That Can Reduce Inflammation

By eating more fresh produce, you'll be able to naturally cut down on the amount of inflammatory proteins in your diet. This is because fruit and vegetables are very low in protein but high in nutrients.

It's also important to note that if you are suffering from arthritis, certain fruits can provide relief while others could make your symptoms worse. Good fruits and vegetables to add to your plant-based diet should include:

  • Green peas
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Oranges
  • Apples
  • Cherries
  • Blueberries

Other vegan-friendly foods that can assist with swollen joints include:

  • Coffee (yes, coffee can help reduce morning stiffness!)
  • Black beans
  • Lentils
  • Olive oil
  • Whole wheat starches
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts

If you still want to eat meat, the Arthritis Foundation suggests opting for fatty fish that's high in omega-3s such as salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel. Meat lovers should also opt for lean meats such as chicken, turkey, and sirloin, flank, or tenderloin cuts. You'll also want to avoid fried foods (sorry!) since they're high in fat and low in omega-3s. But, think of it this way: by removing fried foods you'll feel like you're eating a much healthier diet!

Fruits and Vegetables That Can Cause Inflammation

Nightshade vegetables can be known for worsening inflamed joints. These types of vegetables are as such:

  • Potatoes
  • Eggplants
  • Bell peppers
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Paprika

Nightshade vegetables are also common allergens that can cause hives, coughing, wheezing, and tightness of the throat. If you notice they trigger inflammation or cause these symptoms, opt for things like sweet potatoes, squash, and cauliflower instead.

Whole Grains Are Better For Rheumatoid Arthritis

We know it may be tempting to make white rice or have white bread, but in order to ease joint pain, the Arthritis Foundation states that whole grains may be better options for a couple of different reasons.

Firstly, whole grains are better for our digestive system and gut health because the body absorbs them slower. Whole grains are also an excellent source of fibre that is very necessary for bowel movements and may also help decrease inflammation throughout the body. This is where brown rice, whole wheat bread and whole wheat pasta come into play.

Dairy Products Can Cause Inflammation Too

Another reason people switch to plant-based diets is to remove dairy from their meals. Dairy contains a high level of a protein called casein; a protein known for triggering inflammation and irritation, particularly butter since it's high in fat. But with vegan diets, you can easily substitute these products with dairy-free milk and cheese that are high in protein like soy milk, cashew milk, and almond milk.

Pitcher of vegan almond milk substitute next to a bowl of almonds

Ready To Make The Switch To A Plant-Based Diet?

Since you can't just switch to a plant-based diet overnight, it's important that you gradually remove animal products. It may even be easier to start with a vegetarian diet, and then slowly switch to just plant foods. This way, your body has an easier time adapting to the changes.

Overall, plant-based diets hold many benefits, particularly for those diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis or another autoimmune disease. But, if you're not keen on removing meat from your diet, don't worry - there are still options available to you, you'll just have to ensure you're choosing specific cuts of meat or seafood to improve your condition. If you are looking to switch to a vegan diet and avoid nightshade vegetables, we have the right vegan and nightshade-free sauces for you.