Eating for Healthy Joints, Part 1 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 but more specifically our joints.
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. We will cover the first seven of those today.
While cherries are delicious, it’s not the fruits themselves that are beneficial for joint health. Cherries get their deep red color from anthocyanins, natural plant chemicals that have been shown to reduce inflammation.
As an alternative option to eating the fruit, you can drink cherry juice. Referencing a 2012 study done by the Oregon Health & Science University, Health.com indicates that drinking two cups of tart cherry juice daily reduced inflammation in the body, helping ease OA [osteoarthritis] symptoms.
Vitamin C is a crucial nutrient for joint health, and red peppers are chock-full of it! While all bell peppers contain the vitamin, the red variety is an especially good source. Why is vitamin C so important for your joints? Because it “helps your body make collagen, which is part of your cartilage, tendons, and ligaments that cushion your joints and hold them together,” according to WebMD.
Vitamin C has also been found to reduce pain, as does capsaicin, which red peppers offer a small amount of, along with vitamins A and K, and phytonutrients that act as antioxidants.
Fatty fish—such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines—are especially beneficial for joint health due to being rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids, “which help reduce joint pain and stiffness by suppressing the production of enzymes that erode cartilage and proteins that regulate inflammation,” says Brian D. Golden, M.D., clinical associate professor of rheumatology at NYU Langone Medical Center, in speaking with Men’s Fitness.
Salmon, in particular, is also an excellent source of calcium and vitamin D, which help to maintain bone strength. And while buying it fresh is generally best, for the purposes of your joints it doesn’t matter whether you get salmon from a can or not.
Turmeric is all the rage these days, and for good reason. When it comes to joint health, this superfood contains curcumin, which is a potent anti-inflammatory ingredient.
In fact, WebMD cites, “One study found that a curcumin extract worked as well as ibuprofen at easing knee aches and pains.” A staple ingredient in curries, the Food Network indicates it can also be used in “soups, smoothies and vegetable dishes.”
Like fatty fish, nuts are excellent sources of inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids. Almonds, for instance, also contain vitamin E and manganese. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects the body from damage while manganese helps glucosamine work quicker and more effectively as it repairs joints.
It is important to note, however, that nuts tend to be quite high in fat, so be sure to limit your consumption to about a handful per day. Try eating them on their own as a snack or added to salads and oatmeal.
Is there anything these small but mighty seeds aren’t beneficial for? In addition to being excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids—which are beneficial for reducing joint pain and inflammation—they also contain essential amino acids the body needs to repair muscle, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage.
And that is not all! Chia seeds are also rich in nutrients like fiber and protein. Try adding them to smoothies, oatmeal, baked goods or pasta sauces for a beneficial boost to your joint health!
When it comes to joint health, it’s important to eat your greens! Spinach, kale, collard green or bok choy—the choice is yours! They are all moderately high in essential nutrients like vitamin C, calcium and selenium.
As mentioned previously, Vitamin C is beneficial as it helps to cushion the joints by maintaining cartilage function. Selenium, on the other hand, is believed to help joints due to its antioxidant properties that protect against damage and play a critical role in producing new cells.
Check back next week for Part 2 on Foods for Healthy Joints.