If you’ve been taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for anything from arthritis to muscle pain, you may consider switching to Spanish extra virgin olive oil. Yes, you read that right; olive oil and ibuprofen have more in common than you might think. But there’s one major difference: regular olive oil consumption doesn’t carry the same risk that comes with regular pain reliever consumption. Studies show that EVOO from Spain can not only reduce inflammation, but it can fend off other health risks, too. Read on to understand how olive oil from Spain reduces arthritis inflammation— and more.
Doctor Brent Wells, the author of this article, is a chiropractor and an olive oils from Spain enthusiast. He found extra virgin olive oil from Spain while looking for products that could give an extra value to his patients. While olive oil consumption is universally recognized as very beneficial for the cardiovascular system, Doctor Wells wants to highlight its positive effects also on arthritis, because, in his own words, “Western medicinal knowledge says that arthritis should be treated mostly with medications and physical treatments while the need for healthy dietary habits (like olive oil) is often overlooked”.
As an Spanish EVOO advocate, Doctor Wells always recommends it as the main source of fat in a healthy diet to his patients. Read on to understand how Spanish olive oil reduces arthritis inflammation and why Doctor Wells recommends it: with oleic acid and antioxidants, extra virgin olive oil from Spain is great for your health and well being.
What is Arthritis?
To understand exactly how olive oil can help arthritis, let’s discuss briefly what arthritis is. Unless you suffer from it, you probably think of arthritis as a disease that older people get. While it is common among older folks, it’s not limited to a certain age group. Anyone can suffer from arthritis, no matter their age, overall health, gender, race, or medical history. It’s the largest cause of disability in American, with an estimated 50 million people suffering from it.
Plus, calling it a disease isn’t strictly true. There are many different kinds of arthritis, with the most common being osteoarthritis, which happens when the cartilage in the joints wears away and results in bone-on-bone friction. Even though osteoarthritis is known as noninflammatory arthritis, it still results in inflammation, usually due to friction in the joint.
In fact, nearly all arthritis is characterized by chronic inflammation which does little to help the body heal. As a result, the inflammation causes pain which can limit mobility and decrease quality of life. Spinal arthritis in particular can be very hard to deal with because there’s almost always pressure on your spine. But here’s where olive oil comes in.
How Can Olive Oil Help Reduce Arthritis Inflammation?
Studies have found that olive oil has numerous anti-inflammatory compounds. Among these compounds is one called oleocanthal that has strikingly similar effects to ibuprofen. This compound works to reduce and prevent inflammation by inhibiting pro-inflammation enzymes COX-1 and COX-2. This is the same thing that ibuprofen does.
When inflammation is reduced, the pain associated with it is also reduced. Again, this is why over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines work well to reduce pain. Oleocanthal has a direct tie to the bitter taste of olive oil, so you could say that the bitterer the better.
Olive oil is also packed with other good stuff that can help you stay healthy and live a long life. Its anti-inflammatory properties are beneficial in a number of ways, not to mention its antioxidants.
Other Health Benefits of Olive Oil
A major health benefit of olive oil is its resistance against free radicals. Of course, any antioxidant-rich foods can help prevent cellular damage done by free radicals, but olive oil is cheap, widely available, and easy to integrate into the diet.
Olive oil also contains vitamins E, and it’s a source of healthy fatty acids. The compound mentioned earlier— oleocanthal— may also benefit brain function.
In addition to helping joint function and relieving pain, extra virgin olive oil is thought to help prevent maladies associated with chronic inflammation. Some experts think that extra virgin olive oil in a healthy diet can help prevent health problems including:
- heart disease
- type-2 diabetes
Olive Oil is Healthy But It Needs Some Help From You
For best results, olive oil should be the main source of fat in your diet. When cooking with olive oil, high temperatures can reduce some of the beneficial properties inside. The optimal cooking temperature is under 356 degrees Fahrenheit. Luckily, you can still do much of your cooking with olive oil and still enjoy its beneficial effects. (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/338647783_Domestic_Sauteing_with_EVOO_Change_in_the_Phenolic_Profile)
Simply using olive oil every day is not enough, though. It’s not a cure-all. There are plenty of pro-inflammatory foods that will work against any potential benefits of olive oil in your diet, including processed foods, those high in sugar, and anything fried. Limit or reduce fried foods, and when consumed, cook them with olive oil.
Studies have found that the Mediterranean Diet is the “gold standard” of preventative nutrition. This diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish, whole grains, and, of course, extra virgin olive oil.
But what if you already use olive oil and your diet is healthy but you’re still experiencing arthritis pain? We’ve got some options for you below.
Other Arthritis Treatments
Although a healthy diet is a big part of reducing arthritis pain, there are other natural ways to effectively treat arthritis pain.
- Chiropractic Care
- Work with a chiropractor to naturally reduce arthritis pain without surgery. Chiropractors work with your primary care doctor to build an overall strategy for treating arthritis pain throughout your body.
- Physical Therapy
- Your doctor may recommend physical therapy to increase range of motion, strengthen your muscles, and find the most efficient and effective ways to reduce your pain.
- Massage Therapy
- While focusing more on the muscle groups, massage therapy can help relieve pain in those muscles that can become tight or cramped from overuse. When you have arthritis— especially in the spine— your body can often overcompensate in other ways that end up hurting you more than arthritis itself.
- Lifestyle Changes
- Arthritis pain can be made worse by weight gain, lack of exercise, and a sedentary lifestyle. In order to combat worsening symptoms of arthritis, it’s best to maintain a healthy weight level, exercise regularly, and avoid too much bed rest.
Olive Oil: An Essential Part of A Healthy, Anti-Inflammatory Diet
The benefits of extra virgin olive oil are hard to overlook. Cooking with olive oil instead of butter is one small step to a healthier diet. You can also use Spanish olive oil as a salad dressing, a tasty addition to cooked veggies, and a dipping sauce for whole-grain bread.
Remember to use extra virgin olive oil as it has the most beneficial properties. Unfortunately, some front labels can confuse the consumer, who is looking for evoo and ends up buying a blend of different quality oils. It’s a good idea to read the ingredients and check also on the back label.
Remember to use extra virgin olive oil as it has the most beneficial properties. Unfortunately, not all bottles of extra virgin olive oil are strictly accurate. It’s a good idea to read the ingredients and check for certification on the label to tell the difference between refined olive oil and extra virgin olive oil.
About Dr. Brent Wells
Dr. Brent Wells is a graduate of the University of Nevada where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree before moving on to complete his doctorate from Western States Chiropractic College. He founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in 1998. He became passionate about being a chiropractor after his own experiences with hurried, unprofessional healthcare providers. The goal for Better Health Chiropractic is to treat Juneau patients with care and expertise while providing them with a better quality of life through professional treatment.