Eating for Healthy Joints, Part 2 of 2
At IMAC, we are all about helping people live their best, fully-functioning, pain-free lives. We offer regenerative medicine and solutions to help you do that. But the other side of that is making healthy choices that help your body get and stay healthy. Part of that is what we eat and how it affects our bodies.
A joint is where two or more bones come together. They can be rigid like in our skull, or moveable, like our knees. Joints are essentially pockets filled with a liquid known as synovial fluid, which cushions and nourishes your cartilage, allowing the bones to move over and around one another.
As a result of factors like age, genetics and diet, cartilage can break down and synovial fluid can become clogged, causing inflammation and joint pain. Fortunately, you can help to slow down the effects of these factors by including more of these 14 joint-healthy foods into your diet. Today is part two, covering the final seven foods.
Speaking of antioxidants, berries—like blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries—are among the richest sources of them. Particularly inflammation-fighting ones called anthocyanins, which “give the fruit its deep, rich hue,” says Natalie Azar, M.D., clinical assistant professor of rheumatology at NYU Langone Medical Center, in speaking with Men’s Fitness.
The source adds that berries also contain ellagic acid, “another antioxidant that helps decrease inflammation that exacerbates joint pain.” To up your intake, try snacking on a handful, adding them to smoothies, or using them as a topper for oatmeal and yogurt.
Remember anthocyanins, the natural plant chemicals we mentioned earlier that give cherries their red color? They are also found in the skin of red apples and are powerful at fighting inflammation.
Red apples are also a rich source of an antioxidant called quercetin, which is used in the formation of collagen. Additionally, the source says that apples contain plenty of magnesium, which is one of the nutrients capable of promoting the formation of hyaluronic acid—a critical component of the synovial fluid found in our joints, which can break down over time.
Garlic and Onions
Not only are garlic and onions related, they both contain a powerful sulfur compound that fights inflammation and pain. On top of that, they help flavor food so we can use less sodium, overconsumption of which has been associated with high blood pressure and arthritis.
Onions, in particular, are also a valuable source of quercetin, as well as prebiotic fiber, food that probiotics need to absorb the nutrients you’re taking in and deliver them to your joints.
According to Men’s Fitness, basil “has been used in India and Europe for centuries to treat inflammation and joint pain.” This is because it contains an enzyme called eugenol, which, in addition to giving the herb its fragrant scent, is “a strong anti-inflammatory that suppresses the activity of cyclooxygenase—the enzyme that forms the lipid mediators that cause inflammatory responses in the body,” says Brian D. Golden, M.D., in an interview with the publication.
To get the most benefit, the doctor recommends using a type called holy basil, which can be used to make pesto, or added—either fresh or dry—to soups, salads, and pastas.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil, oftentimes referred to as EVOO, is not only a versatile kitchen staple, but is also highly beneficial for joint health. It offers a valuable amount of lubricin, a protein that improves the ability of synovial fluid to both protect the surrounding cartilage and serves as a lubricant.
EVOO is also a rich source of antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and oleocanthal—a natural phenolic compound found to have some similar effects as some anti-inflammatory drugs. Try adding it to salads and pastas, as well as using it to sauté vegetables.
Like basil, ginger has been used as an anti-inflammatory for many thousands of years. Although it is traditionally used to treat stomach aches and indigestion, ginger also “eases joint pain by blocking several genes and enzymes that promote inflammation and discomfort,” says Brian D. Golden, M.D.
As ginger and turmeric are related, it carries many of the same anti-inflammatory and pain fighting properties. The two foods also go well together in curries, but ginger is also delicious on its own in stir-frys, tea and fresh juices.
In addition to being an excellent source of plant-based protein, soy is also a great for boosting joint health. This is because soy contains estrogen, which in turn affects the production of hyaluronic acid—one of the key components of synovial fluid.
It also offers a healthy amount of omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for reducing joint pain and inflammation. Soy can be consumed in a variety of different forms, including tofu, edamame, tempeh, and soy milk, but be sure to look out for the organic, non-GMO variety.