By now, you’re well aware of the benefits of eating fish—especially for lowering your risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and other chronic, inflammatory diseases.
But surprisingly, until recently, there had never been a study on how effective fish is at reducing symptoms of one of the most common inflammatory diseases—rheumatoid arthritis.
While some studies have shown the benefits of fish oil or omega-3 essential fatty acid supplements for reducing rheumatoid arthritis symptoms of pain and swelling, a new study focused solely on fish consumption.
Researchers found those who ate at least two servings of fish a week reported less arthritis-associated pain and swelling.
And what was really amazing is the majority of these people were already taking medications to reduce inflammation and try to improve their arthritis symptoms.
More fish equals less pain
Researchers gathered 176 men and women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and tracked how often they ate baked, broiled, steamed, or raw fish over the course of one year.1 Fried fish, fish in mixed dishes, and shellfish were not included because they tend to have fewer anti-inflammatory omega-3s than the other types of fish.
Almost 20 percent of the study participants ate fish less than once a month, while about the same amount consumed fish more than twice per week—at the other end of the “scale,” so to speak. Researchers found that the more fish a person ate, the fewer symptoms he or she had.
While fish consumption didn’t relieve arthritis symptoms as much as the arthritis drug methotrexate (brand names are Rheumatrex and Trexall), it was still statistically significant. And fish doesn’t have the side effects of this highly potent, toxic drug. (Not only can methotrexate damage the liver, it’s even used in chemotherapy!)
Make sure you’re eating the best fish
I always recommend eating at least two 3-ounce servings of fish a week. To ensure you consume the freshest, most nutritious fish, follow these tips:
- Know when something’s fishy. Fish should not actually smell “fishy.” That smell is a sign that the rich nitrogen sources of amino acids, nucleic acids, and proteins in the fish have begun to break down and started to spoil.
- Save money with frozen fish. There’s nothing wrong with freezing fish to keep it fresh—it preserves the nutrient content and flavor. In fact, most “fresh” fish and seafood at the grocer have already been frozen at some point along the way (unless you get it on ice at the dock or from open fish markets).
To freeze fresh fish, begin by placing it on a baking sheet. Make sure the pieces aren’t touching, so they don’t freeze together. Place the baking sheet in your freezer and leave in overnight. Then transfer the fish to freezer-safe containers (avoid plastic, which can contain toxic BPA) or aluminum foil. Label the package or container with the date and type of fish then consume within six months.
- Don’t be afraid of shellfish. Although shellfish aren’t as rich in omega-3s as finned fish, they are low in calories and a great source of protein, as well as bioavailable minerals (particularly clams, crabs, mussels, and oysters). It’s a great alternative if you’re not a fan of fresh finned fish.
When you’re shopping for shellfish, choose dry-packed sea scallops (not bay scallops) that are sized U/10 or U/15 (you may ask for this at the fish counter).
Live clams and oysters should have closed shells. If they’re open, give them a tap. If they don’t close, don’t buy or eat them.
When you’re buying shrimp, make sure it’s in the shell, with the heads off. This saves you money on the price per pound. Plus, the shrimp will stay fresh longer without the head. Remember, “fish rots from the head down.”
For some of my favorite fish recipes, take a look at my August 22, 2017 Daily Dispatch, titled, “Try my healthy versions of popular seafood dishes.” (You can access it by visiting www.DrMicozzi.com and searching the archives.)
To learn more natural methods, foods, and supplements that can help ease—and even eliminate— arthritis pain, check out my Arthritis Relief & Reversal Protocol. To learn more or enroll today, click here or call 1-866-747-9421 and ask for order code: EOV3TB01.
Other pain-relieving ways to fill your plate
Of course, fish is a staple in the Mediterranean diet, which has been shown to have numerous health benefits—including easing rheumatoid arthritis.
As I’ve mentioned many times before, this diet is rich in protein and strictly limits the intake of processed foods. The Mediterranean diet focuses on the consumption of fruits, vegetables, high levels of extra virgin olive oil, and seafood—particularly fish. Fatty fish, rich in omega-3 fatty acids are optimal, which include cod, tilapia, salmon, lake trout, herring, mackerel, and albacore tuna.
The common denominator for the multiple health benefits of this diet could be the presence of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). Previous research has indicated that the abundant MUFA content of olive oil and avocados (main staples in the Mediterranean diet) reduced RA activity.
New research from Japan’s TOMORROW study analyzed data from over 400 people—half of the group suffered from RA and the remaining half were healthy age- and gender-matched volunteers.
They found the consumption of MUFAs, meat, vegetables, milk, alcohol, and dairy products (all key components in of the diet) were significantly lowered in the RA group. They determined that increased MUFA intake may suppress disease activity in patients.
Most areas of the country have access to a majority of the staples in the Mediterranean Diet, year-round. So there are no excuses when it comes to stocking up on fresh fish (as well as avocados and olive oil) each week in the name of joint health.
1 “The relationship between fish consumption and disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis.” (2017 Jun 21). Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). National Center of Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28635117