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The Medicare Diet: Best Diet for Arthritis in Seniors


Posted on July 31, 2023 by Austin Lang

Stiff Joints Got You Down?

According to the Arthritis Foundation, arthritis is the #1 cause of disability in the US, affecting over 60 million adults in the US alone. Chances are, you or a loved one deal with some form of this condition, which makes finding the best diet for arthritis that much more important.

The Bare Bones of Arthritis

Inflamed hand joints highlighted on an X-Ray

Arthritis (from ‘arthr-” meaning joint, and ‘-itis’, meaning inflammation) is an umbrella term for conditions characterized by the inflammation of the joints. The most common symptoms of arthritis include:

  • Joint pain
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Redness

There is no singular cause of arthritis: instead, we can divide the condition into two broad categories.

Osteoarthritis occurs when the repair mechanisms of our joints are unable to keep up with mechanical stress. Much like osteoporosis, osteoarthritis is the result of an imbalance between the natural wear and tear our bodies face and our ability to heal. It’s most common in older people, with a higher incidence in those who are overweight or have a history of joint injury.

Rheumatic Disorders cover a wide range of conditions that affect the joints and connective tissues and are often caused by autoimmune disorders or as responses to infection. The most notable rheumatic disorders linked to arthritis are Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), in which the immune system attacks the joints, and Gout, in which uric acid deposits accumulate in the joints and tendons. You might also encounter septic arthritis, which results from an infection in joint tissue, or psoriatic arthritis, which is found in people with psoriasis. Other rheumatic disorders include lupus and fibromyalgia, though specific details to those conditions are beyond the scope of this article.

While there is no definitive cure for arthritis, it is most commonly treated with over-the-counter pain medications, physical therapy, orthopedic bracing, and in severe cases, joint replacement. However, diet and exercise can also play a role in symptom management. 

Picking Foods for Joint Health

Man and woman doing knee bends

When using diet as part of an arthritis treatment plan, it’s best to contact a registered dietician. These are licensed medical professionals who specialize in using food and nutrition to help manage specific conditions. They’re distinct from nutritionists, who fill a similar role but are not licensed under a unified body, and thus not usually covered under Medicare. 

Your dietician will likely have two goals in mind, depending on the specific manifestation of arthritis you have: weight management, and supporting joint health. The weight management angle is not dissimilar to what one would encounter in other diets,  and is mostly focused on reducing the mechanical stress associated with obesity. It’s often combined with exercises aimed at bolstering joint health or strengthening the muscles that support our joints.

The nutritional angle, however, is more complex. We’ll break down several nutrients you should be keeping an eye out for when putting together an arthritis diet plan.

Fighting Inflammation

Fresh Tumeric

Inflammation occurs when the immune system sends inflammatory cells to injured parts of the body, leading to redness, swelling, and pain in the affected area. This is actually vital to the healing process, as it helps the body clear out damaged cells and begin the process of replacing them with new ones. However, prolonged inflammation can lead to tissue damage, loss of function, and even death depending on the specific condition. We use the suffix “-itis” to describe inflammatory conditions, which should give you a hint as to just how prevalent these conditions are if you’re even passingly familiar with common illnesses. Even diseases you wouldn’t expect to be linked to inflammation, like cancer, asthma, and Alzheimer’s, have some sort of connection to it.

The interesting thing about inflammation is that, while any number of things can cause it (from infection to injury to exposure to toxins), the actual mechanics behind it are similar between cases. In fact, you almost certainly have anti-inflammatory medicine in your home, in the form of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or aspirin. While the ideal treatment for inflammation is identifying and eliminating the root cause, using anti-inflammatory treatments can help reduce symptoms in most common situations.

Inflammation is heavily influenced by our diets: certain foods, like trans fats, refined carbohydrates, and nitrates, can cause an increased inflammatory response if you consume them in excess. Conversely, foods like fatty fish, leafy greens, garlic, ginger, and olive oil have anti-inflammatory properties. The common thread in these foods is the presence of healthy fats and antioxidants. This is a situation where we have clinical proof that people who consume diets high in these foods (like the vaunted Mediterranean Diet) have lower levels of inflammation than those who do not, but there’s no single thing we can isolate and turn into a medical treatment. Like so much of nutritional science, it’s a combination of consuming good things, forgoing bad things, and making lifestyle choices in conjunction with one’s diet that leads to results. 

With that in mind, here’s a simple recipe that’s both refreshing and good for the joints.

Turmeric Ginger Green Tea

Tumeric Tea

Turmeric is one of the magical anti-inflammatory substances you always see cited in these articles. This particular blend includes two additional inflammation fighters in the form of ginger and green tea, along with a healthy splash of honey. 


  • 2 cups water
  • 2 bags green tea
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp fresh chopped ginger
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup
  • 1 lemon wedge


  1. Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan.
  2. Add turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, and greet tea. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for ten minutes or until tea is fully steeped.
  3. Pour the tea through a fine mesh strainer. Stir in honey, and serve with lemon.

You can also serve this drink iced, diluted with sparkling water, or mixed with non-dairy milk.

If you’re looking for a Medicare plan that can help you manage arthritis, we can help. Our licensed insurance agents can help you make the most out of Medicare. Call us today at (800) 950-0608 or enter your zip code to get started.

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