How coffee can relieve arthritis

Written by jenny champion, rd, cde, cpt, cdn
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Coffee contains antioxidants and some studies have shown antioxidants provide a range of health benefits

How coffee can relieve arthritis
Coffee and arthritis (Getty Thinkstock)

Antioxidants help protect against cell damage and may help reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, and diseases of the eye, and may even help suppress inflammation.

Tired of feeling achy? Your morning coffee could be the answer to your pain problems. While there is no concrete evidence supporting team caffeine just yet, there is evidence that a daily dose of caffeine comes with a host of health benefits, including a decreased risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes, and even certain types of arthritis.

Taste the research

According to a 2010 study on antioxidant content in foods published in Nutrition Journal, espresso topped the beverage list, with red wine and brewed coffee tying for second. Antioxidants help protect against cell damage and may help reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, and diseases of the eye, and may even help suppress inflammation.

Another recent study found that regular coffee consumption significantly reduced the risk of developing gout. Gout is a form of arthritis caused by excess uric acid (a chemical byproduct of protein breakdown and purine containing foods). The study showed lower levels of uric acid in men and women who drank up to five cups of coffee per day -- great news for chronic coffee drinkers who may be at risk for gout. However, it’s important to note that this particular study focused on caffeine’s ability to reduce risk factors for gout, but did not address its affect on pre-existing gout.

If you’re carrying a few extra pounds around your waistline, that extra weight can put a lot of undue pressure on your joints, leading to pain and discomfort in your knees, ankles, and hips. Getting back to a healthy weight is the first step you can take to relieve pressure on strained joints and help decrease pain.

For many people, getting to the gym simply won’t happen without a strong cup of medium roast. The good news? A study conducted by Dr. Robert Motl at the University of Illinois found that caffeine actually decreases muscle pain during exercise, allowing you to workout longer, burn more calories, and keep those joints in motion.

Nix the jitters

A modest amount of caffeine each day -- think two to three small cups of coffee -- may indeed deliver the above stated health benefits, according to the Mayo Clinic. Consuming excessive amounts, though (upwards of 500 milligrams per day) could wreak havoc on your nervous system. Signs of excessive caffeine consumption include:

• Insomnia

• Nervousness

• Restlessness

• Irritability

• Upset stomach

• Rapid heartbeat

• Muscle tremors

Make a plan

Always talk to your doctor about any health concerns or questions you may have, particularly concerning dietary changes. If you have a history of gout, you may also want to talk to a Registered Dietitian about decreasing high purine foods in your diet, such as beer, dried beans, peas, liver, anchovies, and mackerel. These foods and beverages can increase the amount of uric acid in your bloodstream.

Keep in mind that simply drinking a cup of coffee, eating one type of food, or taking a supplement does not always translate into lasting health benefits. When it comes to health and well-being, there is no quick fix. Regular exercise combined with a healthy, balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and whole grains is essential for good overall health.

If you’re looking to improve your health, getting active is a fantastic start. If caffeine gets you up and out, by all means enjoy a cup or two. Just be careful not to go overboard on the half-and-half and sugar, which can add up quickly and cancel out all your hard work at the gym.

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