Before you dash to the medicine cabinet to treat your stiff joints, arthritis or back pain, try the pantry or fridge. Feeling better is much easier than you think. Here are suggestions of the most powerful pain-suppressing foods that could be on your shopping list and in your kitchen!

A bell pepper has twice the vitamin C of an orange, and C is one of the nutrients most responsible for the health of collagen (connective tissue that aids in joint flexibility). Some research suggests that people who don’t get enough vitamin C may have a greater risk of developing certain kinds of arthritis. BONUS: Red bell peppers also contain beta-cryptoxanthin, a compound that helps reduce pain.
Try this: put diced peppers in omelets and salads, or dunk slices in hummus.

The bright orange color comes from beta-carotene, a strong antioxidant that fights the cell-damaging molecules called free radicals released by your body.
Try this: slice and roast in the oven for a side dish, or mash and mix into pancake batter.

The flavorful root contains chemicals that work similarly to some anti-inflammatory medications, and both the fresh and ground versions offer ingredients with feel-good perks.
Try this: make a warm drink by steeping a few slices of ginger in hot water for 5 minutes. Optional: add 1 tsp. honey.

Studies have shown that the mustard-yellow spice, which contains an anti-swelling compound call curcumin, may help relieve aches by lowering inflammatory chemicals circulating in the body. If you don’t like the taste of turmeric, ask your doctor about curcumin capsules (available at most health food stores).
Try this: sprinkle turmeric powder into soups and stews, or add a pinch to chicken or vegetables while cooking for a flavor boost.

Thanks to the hearty dose of omega-3 fats, eating salmon can decrease inflammation by suppressing the production of enzymes that harm cartilage. In fact, multiple studies have shown that a diet rich in omega-3s can lead to less joint swelling and stiffness. Fresh salmon is great, but canned works fine too.
Try this: for a simple lunch, mash a can of wild salmon with olive oil and red wine vinegar. Mix in chickpeas, chopped red bell pepper and minced onion.


*Article reprinted from:, March 2014, p.126.