Arthritis is an umbrella term used for a condition that affects the joints or the tissues around the joint. There are over 100 types of arthritis that have been identified and classified until now, and most of them cause stiffness and pain in and around the affected joint or joints. Certain types of arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis, can also impact the body’s immune system and other organs. For years, researchers have been saying that diet has a significant role to play in helping manage the symptoms of arthritis. However, it can be confusing to understand what foods actually help and which ones can potentially trigger your arthritis symptoms. Read on to learn whether cherry juice and apple cider vinegar can treat arthritis.
Arthritis and Diet
If you have arthritis, you are well aware of just how debilitating the condition can be. The term arthritis is a general term used to classify diseases that cause swelling, pain, and stiffness in the joints.(1,2,3,4) Arthritis can affect people of all ages, gender, and even ethnic backgrounds. As mentioned above, there are many different forms of arthritis. For example, rheumatoid arthritis is a form of arthritis that is also an autoimmune disease, and in this, it is your own immune system that attacks the joints. (5,6)On the other hand, osteoarthritis is another form of arthritis that develops in the joints due to overuse. (7,8)
Apart from medications and physical therapy, there are many different foods that can help ease the inflammation and also alleviate the joint pain associated with this condition. In fact, a 2017 survey found that 24% of people with rheumatoid arthritis had reported that changing their diet had a significant impact on the severity of their arthritis symptoms. (9)
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are over 54 million people in the US who have been diagnosed with arthritis. (10) However, the role of diet in how to manage arthritis can be confusing for many people. There are many claims about so-called ‘miracle’ foods that can help manage arthritis symptoms, but at the same time, one needs to be aware of foods that can also trigger the arthritis symptoms.
It is said that cherry juice and apple cider vinegar can help in relieving arthritis stiffness and pain. Here’s how to include it in your efforts to manage your arthritis.
Cherries and Arthritis
Cherries are known for being a potent source of anthocyanins, which is the substance that lends the fruit its red color. According to the Folia Horticulturae Journal, 100 grams of dark cherries can provide the body with 82 to 297 milligrams of anthocyanins. (11) Belonging to the flavonoid group, anthocyanins have rich antioxidant properties that help fight against inflammation in the body. However, researchers still don’t understand the exact manner in which this mechanism works.
In 2018, a double-blind study published in a supplement of the Arthritis and Rheumatism journal discovered that tart cherry juice might play an important role in relieving pain caused by osteoarthritis of the knee.(12) The study found that people who consumed two bottles of tart cherry juice every day for a period of six weeks had reduced pain scores as compared to the group of participants that drank a placebo. Each bottle of tart cherry juice had an equivalent of 45 tart cherries but with a significant dose of sugar – a whopping 31 grams.
In other studies as well, researchers have tried to demonstrate that cherries can help decrease pain from osteoarthritis. For example, another 2012 study carried out on 20 women participants with osteoarthritis found that they had reduced levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) after drinking two bottles of tart cherry juice every day for a period of 21 days.(13) A lower CRP level is linked with lesser amounts of inflammation in the body.
Research from the Baylor Research Institute found that a gelatin capsule produced from Montmorency cherries can help alleviate pain caused by osteoarthritis. However, this study was relatively small and was never published, along with the fact that a follow-up study failed to confirm these results. Also, according to the Arthritis Foundation, cherry capsules have not been found to show any more pain improvement than a placebo during the follow-up studies. (15)
Some research, though, has shown potential for cherries and extract of cherries in reducing gout attacks. Gout is another form of arthritis and having a gout flare-up or attack causes swelling, joint pain, and redness. A 2012 study carried out by the Boston University School of Medicine found that consuming cherries can help prevent gout flare-ups. (16) The study was done on 633 gout patients for a period of one year, and the researched analyzed the results at two-day intervals and discovered that the participants who took cherries over the two-day period had a 35% lower risk of having gout attacks as compared to those who did not have cherries at all.
The exact connection between cherries and arthritis is still being researched upon. As the research is evolving, there is no harm in having cherries, especially for people with arthritis.
Apple Cider Vinegar and Arthritis
Supporters of apple cider vinegar claim that the presence of the potent antioxidant beta carotene and acetic acid in the vinegar has many miraculous effects in relieving arthritis pain. However, no research studies have shown evidence to confirm these claims. A United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) analysis of apple cider vinegar found no measurable amounts of various vitamins and beta carotene. (17)
Taking vinegar pills or drinking it has not been shown to help arthritis in any way, and the Arthritis Foundation actually lists apple cider vinegar amongst the food myths associated with arthritis. (18)
It is important to understand that no special arthritis diet has actually been proven to help reduce the symptoms of arthritis. However, following a healthy diet is the most important thing you can do to live a good quality of life despite being diagnosed with arthritis. You should include healthy amounts of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds to help maintain a healthy weight and, therefore, control the symptoms of arthritis.
Healthy eating will also help decrease the inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis and gout. You can include cherries and apple cider vinegar as part of a fruit and vegetable-rich diet that will keep your energy levels high, boost your immunity and also keep your weight in a normal, healthy range.
- Elders, M.J., 2000. The increasing impact of arthritis on public health. The Journal of Rheumatology. Supplement, 60, pp.6-8.
- Reginster, J.Y., 2002. The prevalence and burden of arthritis. Rheumatology, 41(suppl_1), pp.3-6.
- Fries, J.F., Spitz, P., Kraines, R.G. and Holman, H.R., 1980. Measurement of patient outcome in arthritis. Arthritis & Rheumatism, 23(2), pp.137-145.
- Meenan, R.F., Gertman, P.M. and Mason, J.H., 1980. Measuring health status in arthritis. Arthritis & Rheumatism, 23(2), pp.146-152.
- Firestein, G.S., 2003. Evolving concepts of rheumatoid arthritis. Nature, 423(6937), pp.356-361.
- McInnes, I.B. and Schett, G., 2011. The pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis. New England Journal of Medicine, 365(23), pp.2205-2219.
- Glyn-Jones, S., Palmer, A.J.R., Agricola, R., Price, A.J., Vincent, T.L., Weinans, H. and Carr, A.J., 2015. Osteoarthritis. The Lancet, 386(9991), pp.376-387.
- Arden, N. and Nevitt, M.C., 2006. Osteoarthritis: epidemiology. Best practice & research Clinical rheumatology, 20(1), pp.3-25.
- Tedeschi, S.K., Frits, M., Cui, J., Zhang, Z.Z., Mahmoud, T., Iannaccone, C., Lin, T.C., Yoshida, K., Weinblatt, M.E., Shadick, N.A. and Solomon, D.H., 2017. Diet and rheumatoid arthritis symptoms: survey results from a rheumatoid arthritis registry. Arthritis care & research, 69(12), pp.1920-1925.
- Cdc.gov. 2021. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Arthritis | CDC. [online] Available at: <https://www.cdc.gov/
arthritis/basics/faqs.htm> [Accessed 30 April 2021].
- 2021. [online] Available at: <https://www.degruyter.com/
downloadpdf/j/fhort.2016.28. issue-1/fhort-2016-0011/fhort- 2016-0011.pdf> [Accessed 30 April 2021].
- Martin, K.R., Burrell, L. and Bopp, J., 2018. Authentic tart cherry juice reduces markers of inflammation in overweight and obese subjects: a randomized, crossover pilot study. Food & function, 9(10), pp.5290-5300.
- Kuehl, K.S., Elliot, D.L., Sleigh, A.E. and Smith, J.L., 2012. Efficacy of tart cherry juice to reduce inflammation biomarkers among women with inflammatory osteoarthritis (OA). J Food Stud, 1, pp.14-25.
- Baylor Scott & White Health. 2021. Can Cherries Relieve the Pain of Osteoarthritis?. [online] Available at: <https://news.bswhealth.com/
en-US/releases/Can-Cherries- Relieve-the-Pain-of- Osteoarthritis> [Accessed 30 April 2021].
- Living With Arthritis. 2021. How Cherries Help Fight Arthritis – Living With Arthritis. [online] Available at: <http://blog.arthritis.org/
living-with-arthritis/ arthritis-diet-cherries> [Accessed 30 April 2021].
- Zhang, Y., Neogi, T., Chen, C., Chaisson, C., Hunter, D.J. and Choi, H.K., 2012. Cherry consumption and decreased risk of recurrent gout attacks. Arthritis & Rheumatism, 64(12), pp.4004-4011.