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A Dietary Guide for Bursitis Sufferers

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If you are suffering from Bursitis, avoid THESE three foods to help reduce inflammation.

Living with the pain of bursitis can significantly limit the ability to participate in physical activities and often leads to a reduction in quality of life. While there are treatment options that involve drugs or surgery, some people can control their bursitis through a simple, natural change in diet.

What is Bursitis, Really?

Bursitis is a somewhat odd ailment that has its root in several different causes. The bursa is a sac filled with fluid that helps prevent joints from rubbing against each other. The bursa sac is basically a cushion for the joints. However, although bursitis is related to arthritis, it is considered a separate issue. When someone gets bursitis, the sac fills with extra fluid, leading to pain, swelling, tenderness, and inflammation.

Typical causes of bursitis include repetitive motion and stress on the joints. Injuries, overuse, inflammation in the body, and extended pressure on the joint can also contribute to bursitis. Bursitis is typically considered a mild ailment, but there are ways to prevent the issue from occurring. Chronic bursitis can be nearly as debilitating as severe arthritis.

Common Occupations Leading to Bursitis

  • Manual workers
  • Athletes
  • Sedentary jobs

Bursitis Statistics

Approximately one in every 32 people have bursitis of some kind, which equals about 3.2 percent in the United States. It is estimated by Right Diagnosis.com, that there are about 87 million people in the United States who suffer from bursitis of some kind. These issues include common joint and inflammation issues including:

Types of Bursitis
  • Student's elbow or tennis elbow
  • Bunions
  • Housemaid's knee - caused by kneeling
  • Knee bursitis
  • Elbow bursitis
  • Hip bursitis
  • Coachman's bottom- caused by extended sitting on hard surfaces
  • Shoulder bursitis

Bursitis Causes

Generally, bursitis is caused by environmental factors and stress on the joints. However, if your body is already conditioned for inflammation, you may see the effects of bursitis sooner. Anyone can get bursitis after engaging in repetitive motions, but if you reduce inflammation in your body overall, you will be able to reduce your chances of feeling pain from bursitis. You may be able to remove your pain level completely, or at least reduce it enough to continue to engage in regular, everyday activities.

Treatment Options for Bursitis

When bursitis is caused by repetitive motion that places stress on a joint and inflames the bursa sac, rest is often recommended. However, people who suffer from bursitis because of age or an action that must be performed regularly for work are often unable to find relief through rest.

Ice and anti-inflammatory medications that can be purchased over-the-counter may be used for mild cases of bursitis. More serious cases of the condition can be treated by prescription medication or injections of steroids, but the side effects of steroid injections can cause undesirable complications for sufferers.

Physical therapy is a method of treating bursitis without using medication. It can also be used in conjunction with medication for more serious cases of bursitis, and some cases that do not respond to any form of traditional treatment will require surgery.

Foods that Fight Bursitis

Did you know that the foods that you eat can reduce the amount of inflammation that you see in your body? Basically, if you eat foods that have an inflaming or stressing effect on the body, any extra stress on the body will lead to pain and swelling. Think of it as an allergy. If you are allergic to shellfish, then the more shellfish you eat the worse your allergy symptoms will become. The same effect is true with inflaming foods. The more inflaming foods you eat, the higher your chances of experiencing inflammation-related pain in your body- such as bursitis or arthritis.

Luckily, there are plenty of things you can eat that will reduce the inflaming effect of foods on your body. There are also several highly inflaming foods that you should avoid, including vegetable oils and unsaturated fats, processed foods, and High-glycemic foods like empty carbohydrates (white bread, for example) and simple sugars.

So, what should you eat instead? Add these inflammation-reducing foods to your diet to ensure you avoid painful bursitis symptoms:


Pineapple contains the powerful enzyme bromelain, which is an inflammation-fighting ingredient. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, one study showed that a combination of bromelain, trypsin, and rutoside (two other inflammation-reducing enzymes) was as effective as NSAID medication treating knee pain. Pineapple also helps make protein digestion easier.


Papaya contains a beneficial enzyme known as papain. Papain is a highly effective anti-inflammatory agent that was proven in a 2001 study conducted by the Second Tashkent State Medical Institute to provide as strong of an anti-inflammatory effect as butadiene and indomethacin.

Dark Greens

Dark greens contain many, many beneficial ingredients ranging from vitamin K to iron. Dark greens also contain B vitamins, which can have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. B vitamins repair cells and prevent damage to cells, according to the Human Performance Resource Center. Some of the best dark greens to add to your diet include broccoli, spinach, kale, and dark lettuce.


There is some debate on whether bananas are good for fighting inflammation or not. Some medical research shows they cause inflammation because they are a high-glycemic food, while other research shows they fight inflammation because they contain vitamin C, antioxidants, and Alpha-linolenic acid (which is known for fighting inflammation).

Fish, Eggs, and Grass-Fed Meats

Omega-3 oil is one of the biggest sources of nutrients that most Americans are missing today. In fact, it is estimated by the Cleveland Clinic's Wellness Institute that Americans eat about 25 times more omega-6 fatty acid than Omega-3 fatty acid. The recommended balance of Omega-3 oils to Omega-6s oils is 4 to 1. Basically, to reduce the inflammatory effects of omega-6 acids, there have to be enough other oils in the body from omega-3s, 7s, and 9s. Omega-3 fatty acids largely come from fish, but other sources include walnuts, grass-fed meats, flaxseed, and pasture-raised eggs. You can find omega 7 and 9 in olive oil and macadamia nut oil. Take care with olive oil, however, as it is often adulterated with omega-6 oils like soybean oil. If your olive oil doesn’t have a strong flavor and does not solidify when you refrigerated it, it is not pure olive oil.

Low-glycemic Grains

Most grains have a high glycemic index, which can lead to inflammation in the body. However, some grains have a low-glycemic index and will not cause a huge sugar spike in the body. These grains include barley, oatmeal, quinoa, and bulgur.

Whey Protein

Whey protein is the protein left in the milk after the solids and fat are removed. You might consider whey as true ‘skim milk.’ Whey protein has been newly identified as inflammation-fighting food. In a 2001 study published in the Cancer Epidemiological Biomarkers Preview, researchers found that giving whey protein to rats with colon cancer reduced inflammation and lowered their incidence of colon cancer by about 20 percent.


Magnesium is another important nutrient that many Americans are lacking. Magnesium has many benefits, including brain-boosting powers. Magnesium can also fight inflammation in some cases. A 2007 study published in the American Society for Clinical Nutrition showed that women who ate magnesium-rich foods showed a reduction of systemic inflammation and endothelial dysfunction in healthy women over the age of 43. However, some research suggests that magnesium is best absorbed through the skin. In a study of magnesium supplement absorption from Baylor University Medical Center, it was found that only 7 percent was absorbed. In a study of magnesium absorption through the skin from the University of Birmingham, it was found that soaking in a magnesium bath of 1 percent showed elevated magnesium levels in the blood and urine. Magnesium-rich foods include dark leafy greens, bananas, beans, lentils, and oats.

Avoid These Foods

Wanting to avoid harsh medical treatments that could be prescribed for bursitis is an understandable goal, and choosing to alter one's diet is a method of controlling bursitis that has been proven to be effective.

Familiarize yourself with the types of foods that should be avoided to give yourself the best chance of controlling bursitis through a change in diet.


The specific type of protein that makes up legumes should be avoided by anyone dealing with inflammation in the joints because it cannot be properly digested by the human body. When this protein is inadequately broken down by the digestive enzymes in the body, an inflammatory response results. 

Unlike some other types of foods, cooking legumes will not make them any easier to digest. Avoid beans, peanuts, soybeans, hummus, and other legumes to reduce inflammation.

Simple Carbohydrates

Whole grains and high-fiber carbohydrates can be part of a healthy diet for people who suffer from bursitis, but take care when choosing bread or starchy vegetables. Refined starches that have been processed in a way that strips them of their nutritional value are common in the store because they have a longer shelf life and are more popular among consumers. However, these high-glycemic foods cause a spike in blood sugar that can even cause inflammation and lead to bursitis.

Not only do refined carbohydrates contribute to inflammation, but the failure of refined carbohydrates to keep a person feeling full after they eat often leads to overeating and obesity. Carrying around extra weight means that stress is put on the joints, and people who are overweight are at risk of developing bursitis.

Added Sugars

Like refined carbohydrates, added sugars cause a spike in blood sugar that can cause inflammation or make it worse. Baked goods, candies, and soft drinks are all known to have added sugars, but there may be added sugars in other foods that would not be thought to have unhealthy additives. 

Processed foods often utilize some type of sugar as a type of preservative, so learn to spot sugar by its many names in ingredient lists. Other names for sugar include beet sugar, cane sugar, cane juice, corn syrup, maltodextrin, and sorbitol. Remember that natural types of sugar like raw sugar or cane sugar still have negative effects on the human body.

Some foods contain vitamins and minerals that can reduce inflammation and make bursitis more manageable. 

Vitamins That Help Bursitis

Vitamin B

Cell damage can make bursitis worse, so it is important to make sure that a diet includes vitamins that can help repair cell damage. Vitamin B is an ideal solution and can be found in foods that provide other health benefits as well.

Broccoli and spinach are known to have high quantities of vitamin B. Bananas are an ideal snack that provides vitamin B for people who are living with the pain and inflammation of bursitis.

Vitamin C

People who may not have developed bursitis can eat a diet rich in vitamin C to strengthen the bursa sac and prevent the development of bursitis. The antioxidants in foods with high levels of vitamin C protect the bursa sac and help prevent inflammation or infection in this fluid-filled sac.

Healthy foods that provide a high amount of vitamin C include strawberries, kiwi, and oranges.

Vitamin E

As with vitamin B, vitamin E protects against cell damage. Antioxidants are also present in foods with vitamin E, and most leafy greens contain a healthy dose of the vitamin.


Some fruits and vegetables contain different enzymes that can reduce or prevent inflammation in the human body. For example, pineapple contains an anti-inflammatory enzyme known as bromelain. Papaya contains an enzyme known as papain that is used as a meat tenderizer and can reduce inflammation.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish, healthy oils, some types of nuts, and certain types of eggs. These fatty acids are thought to be necessary for maintaining a healthy metabolism, and the health benefits that can be enjoyed through the consumption of foods containing omega-3 fatty acids help with inflammation issues.

The vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that help with bursitis can be taken as a multi-vitamin or in a tablet form, but studies suggest that the highest number of health benefits can be enjoyed through the consumption of foods containing these substances. The absorption of vitamins, minerals, and certain enzymes is boosted by eating foods instead of taking a supplement.

Herbs to Relieve Bursitis Symptoms

If your bursitis symptoms are severe, you will probably want to add some of these inflammation-fighting supplements to your diet. These herbs and supplements can help fight inflammation even when your diet is less than ideal. It is important to continue to eat a healthy diet, however, to truly reduce your bursitis symptoms and prevent bursitis from occurring regularly. So what herbs and supplements should you add to your diet? The University of Maryland recommends the following supplements:


Supplements for Bursitis 
  • White Willow: White willow has effects similar to aspirin. Boil 2 grams of bark into 8 ounces of water and drink up to 5 cups of tea a day. This will help fight any inflammation in the body and will help flare-ups heal faster.
  • Boswellia: Take 150 mg three times a day to fight inflammation.
  • Turmeric: Turmeric is an anti-swelling and inflammation supplement that is highly effective. Take about 375 mg two or three times a day to stop bursitis flare-ups and start feeling normal sooner.
  • Arnica: Take this homeopathic remedy if your bursitis is caused by an injury to the joint.
  • Bellis perennis: Take this after a bruising bursitis injury.
  • Fish oil or flaxseed supplement: Take 1,000 mg two or three times a day. Fish oil and flaxseed oil contain helpful Omega-3 fatty acids. These fight inflammation and also help reduce the effects of other inflammatory ingredients on the body.
  • Glucosamine sulfate: Take 500 mg two or three times a day. This is a part of natural cartilage that helps reduce the inflammation of bursitis specifically.

Stopping Bursitis Before It Starts

Like many troubles that Americans face these days, much of the health problem of bursitis is caused by excessive inflammation in the body. Cut down on inflammation and you will see fewer bursitis flare-ups. You can also help prevent bursitis flare-ups by taking care of your joints. If you start to feel pain during an activity, stop for a while, if possible. At work, where it is often hard to move around or change activities, try changing how you sit, take frequent movement breaks, or try to do your jobs in a way that doesn’t place stress on the same joints over and over. This will help you keep your bursa sac functioning appropriately, and it will help you manage your risk of bursitis and prevent flare-ups before they begin.





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