Arjmandi, Ph.D., R.D., now professor of nutrition, food, and
exercise sciences at Florida State University in Tallahassee.
Tofu, soy milk, burgers, edamame: All are good options.
But be patient. “It takes two or three weeks for it to take
effect,” Arjmandi says.
A recent Thai study found that the
spice common in many Indian foods
fights the pain of rheumatoid arthritis
as effectively as ibuprofen. Turmeric
also seems to inhibit the destruction of joints from arthritis,
according to National Institutes of Health–supported
research on rats at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
Turmeric inhibits a protein called NF-kB; when turned
on, this protein activates the body’s inflammatory response,
leading to achy joints. Investigator Janet L. Funk, M.D., and
others are still working out the optimal dose, but “using
turmeric as a spice in cooking is safe,” she says.
High amounts of antioxidants called
anthocyanins are the key to cherries’ pain-fighting power. In a U.S.
Department of Agriculture study,
participants who ate 45 Bing cherries a day for 28 days re-
duced their inflammation levels significantly. And a Johns
Hopkins study of rats given cherry anthocyanins hinted
that anthocyanins might also protect against arthritis pain.
Unpublished preliminary data from the Baylor Research
Institute in Dallas further showed that a tart-cherry pill
reduced pain and improved function in more than 50 per-
cent of osteoarthritis patients over an eight-week period.
A cherry-juice drink likewise reduced symptoms of muscle
damage among exercising men in a University of Vermont
study: Their pain scores dropped significantly compared
with the scores of those who did not drink the juice. Pain-
calming anthocyanins are also found in blackberries, rasp-
berries, and strawberries.
Ever wonder why so many over-the-
counter cold and headache medi-
cines contain caffeine? Studies show
it enhances the effects of common
painkillers such as aspirin and acetaminophen. But recent
data suggest caffeine has pain-lowering powers of its own—
at least when it comes to the pain associated with exercise.
University of Georgia researchers showed that moderate
doses of caffeine—equivalent to two cups of joe—reduced
post-workout pain by almost 50 percent.
And a caffeine buzz may boost your workout. Caffeine
seems to raise your pain threshold, making it easier to keep