Many of us take our joints for granted. It’s not until we have a serious injury or arthritis strikes that we realize just how much we rely on our joints to get us where we need to go and carry out simple tasks. Nobody appreciates healthy, flexible, pain-free joints more than arthritis sufferers.

While most people turn to medications to treat arthritis, there is increasing evidence that dietary changes might bring long-term relief to arthritis sufferers. “Managing arthritis is about lifestyle and overall diet pattern coupled with quality medical treatment by a rheumatologist," explains Lona Sandon, M.Ed., R.D., a rheumatoid arthritis sufferer and national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. "Changes in arthritis symptoms that may relate to overall dietary pattern are not likely to happen overnight. Some people may find that over time -- three to six months -- a plant-based, Mediterranean-type diet may help them feel better."

Here are some examples of foods that might support healthy joints:

Fruits and vegetables. Certain plant foods have been deemed "anti-inflammatory," as they can ease the pain and swelling of osteoarthritis. A 2010 study in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders found that a plant-based diet of fruits and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and kale, along with alliums, such as garlic, onions and leeks, showed some improvement with osteoarthritis of the hip.

Green tea:  Potent plant compounds in green tea leaves called catechins, have anti- inflammatory and antioxidant effects that appear to stave off oxidative damage in joints. A 2010 review in Arthritis Research and Therapy showed that EGCG protects cartilage from breaking down and maintains the integrity of collagen in the presence of joint disorders. Although more research is needed, green tea shows enough promise that it may be worth drinking at least three to four cups a day.

Mediterranean diet: Dietary patterns that show promise in lowering inflammation, according to a 2010 review in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, are low in saturated fat from red and processed meat, and plentiful in fruits and vegetables, beans, legumes, fish and olive oil -- like the Mediterranean diet.

Did you ever consider a change in diet could help improve joint health?