An article in the most recent AARP magazine touts seven superfoods that purportedly fight inflammation. They’ve looked at several studies and have come up with the fantastic seven.  I’ve talked about most of these before, but they deserve revisiting.

Cherries: anthocyanins are   a major pain-fighting compound, and are abundant in cherries. In a USDA study, subjects who ate 45 cherries a day for 28 days reduced their inflammation levels significantly. A study at Baylor University and a Johns Hopkins study confirmed that anthocyanins might protect against arthritis pain-work is being done right now to find a possible treatment. To be honest, I have tried Cherries for pain, but could not keep up with the protocol, so I didn’t experience the benefits.

Red Grapes/Resveratrol (RV): This compound has been the darling of nutritional supplements as of late, and with good reason. Results from the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago showed that RV protected against cartilage damage seen in joints due to osteoarthritis. RV is also a powerful antioxidant, implicated for use against cancer and other harmful disease states.

Soy: A study at the University of Oklahoma found that consuming 40 grams of soy protein daily slashed patients’ use of pain medication in half. Isoflavones, plant hormones with anti-inflammatory properties, is responsible for the effect. Tofu, soy milk, edamame are all good options, but remember, it may take two or three weeks to feel the effect.

Ginger. I’m not a big fan of ginger, but it keeps cropping up in healthful ways. The latest is with a reduction in pain of patients with chronic knee pain. A study out of the University of Miami reported almost a third of subjects taking ginger reported less soreness after ingesting ginger, than those taking a placebo, and new research shows that it is effective in tackling post-excercise workout pain. Ginger works by blocking an enzyme that’s a key component of the inflammatory process. Two to three tbsp/day should do the trick.

Turmeric: Most of you (that have been reading my column) know that I am first in line to vote for turmeric powder as the #1 pain-reliever, anti-inflammatory, Alzheimer’s protector on the planet. I believe turmeric has done wonders for me. A recent study from Thailand found that this spice fights the pain of rheumatoid arthritis as effectively as ibuprofen. Turmeric also seems to inhibit the destruction of joints from arthritis, by inhibiting a protein called NF-kB, which activates the body’s inflammatory response.

Caffeine: Caffeine enhances the effects of aspirin and acetaminophen, but also has pain-lowering properties of its own, especially when it comes to pain following exercise. A University of Georgia study showed that two cups of Joe lowered post-workout pain by 50%. In other words, caffeine makes your muscles feel better.

Fish: Omega-3’s help keep your heart in tip-top shape, and may also tame the pain or inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis, migraines, and some auto-immune diseases, including Crohn’s disease. aim for two to four meals a week of fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, or trout. Halibut, tuna, snapper, and stripped bass are also good.

I’ve been touting the benefits of short-burst, high-intensity exercise, as opposed to long, slow, endurance activities. New research bolsters that claim. In a study involving endurance athletes 50+ years old, as compared to the same age non-athletes, the endurance athletes showed lower lung volume, cardiac capacity, and increased fibrosis on the heart muscle, which is not a good thing. Long endurance-type activities are not part of our biological makeup. It’s a good thing, since I personally dislike long exercise periods. I like to give myself high exertion tasks with short duration. I stay focussed, and have time to do the things I really like.

Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.