Top 5 Foods That Help Promote Healthy Joints
As someone with two herniated discs in my lower back, I know how difficult it can be to keep fit. Staying healthy is a lifelong process and is serious business, especially for those of us with chronic conditions that regularly affect our mobility. It can be a challenge, but our bodies are arguably the most important place to invest time and energy into. This is where proper nutrition comes in as probably the most crucial part of healing and prevention .
Nutrition is much more than food
Food does not only keep us from feeling hunger and provide energy. Foods that are a great source of healthy vitamins, minerals, and nutrients help promote good health throughout our lifetime, and also help reduce the instances of disease. Health experts, including those at the Centers for Disease Control, have always highlighted the importance of nutrition as key to treating sickness and improving community health. Compounds found in a variety of different foods have been studied for their wholesome benefits, and as a result, more doctors and more are suggesting healthy eating and nutrition in place of traditional medicines.
Why joint health is important
When it comes to exercise, mobility is one of the top excuses for people not doing it daily. People with injuries and chronic joint conditions have a lot of difficulty moving around comfortably, therefor they often don’t participate in a long-term fitness program. Yet, ironically, working out daily is an important part of staying healthy. It’s a catch-22.
These issues make the study of joint health incredibly important, and it is interesting to see so many foods that are beneficial in treating this area. The prevalence of joint conditions increases as we age - our bones become weaker and lose density. For instance, this research study explained that “30 to 50% of adults over the age of 65 years suffer from osteoarthritis”. Scientists blame a variety of reasons why is this the case - a change in the structure of collagens has been pointed as the root cause in some cases; while others point to a decrease in joint viscosity, materials called synovial fluids.
Moreover, many conditions like obesity have debilitating effects on the health of our joints due to the amount of pressure put on those areas. Overweight people have higher rates of arthritis, - including gout - high blood pressure, and diabetes. All of these diseases can affect how well you move.
These conditions are caused by inflammation, which is that main culprit in arthritis (and other conditions). It is the body’s immune response to either a virus, injury, or infection, and is it’s way of trying to heal itself. However, inflammation can become chronic and this is where it becomes a lifelong problem. The key to treating all of these conditions which can affect your joints is to reduce the amount of inflammation in your body.
Eating foods that reduce inflammation in the joints, or increase the production of synovial fluids increases the chance of developing healthy joints. By doing so, it will allow sufferers to exercise more often, thus increasing their overall health for the length of their lives.
Here , I will share with you the top 5 foods that have been proven to promote good joint health by reducing inflammation in the body.
Did you know that even though 20 species of edible plants represent over 90% of our food, there are over 20,000 edible plants (including nearly 500 varieties of lettuce) growing on Earth? These plants, including all vegetables are amazingly nutritious foods that provide us with dozens of vitamin and minerals each day.
Compared to non-vegetarians, vegetarians tend to have lower risks of diabetes, obesity and arthritis. The study concluded that people who add vegetables to their meals have better health than people who do not. That’s not so surprising, but you know...gotta show the facts.
This report concluded that eating vegetables should be recommended as part of the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammatory disease of the joints. They can also help with healing other autoimmune diseases. Vegetables = SUPERFOOD!
All vegetables are healthy, but the leafy green ones tend to have the highest concentration of these beneficial compounds. One of the most beneficial minerals found in huge amount in green leafy vegetables is fiber. Eating fiber has been linked to many health benefits, one of which is seen in joint health. A 2017 study concluded that high intake of dietary fiber correlates with “a lower risk of developing moderate or severe knee pain over time”.
A more recent study by the National Institutes of Health, however, concluded that dietary fiber can actually protect against arthritis.
Therefore, eating an increased amount of vegetables, like spinach, cabbage, lettuce, kale, silver beets, salad greens, and broccoli will reduce inflammation throughout your body, thus lesson the pain and discomfort that comes along with it.
Fruits contain many anti-inflammatory compounds including kaempferol, bromelain, gallate, catechin, genistein, tannic acid, and quercetin, and p-Coumaric acid.
p-Coumaric acid, which is found in abundance in potatoes, apples, and citrus fruits has been shown to significantly reduce inflammation.
Magniferin, which is predominantly found in mangoes, has been shown to prevent the breakdown of synovial fluids in joints, consequently preventing joint destruction. It has also been shown to have good anti-inflammatory properties.
A study of the effects of polyphenol extracts from fruits consisting of gallate, tannic acid, and quercetin were shown to prevent cartilage degradation and reduce inflammation.
Berries are extraordinary fruits because although they are sweet, they have a lower concentration of sugar per serving than other fruits. They are highly perishable and are usually luxury fruits, but you can grow them at home by yourself. All types of berries contain plenty of anti-inflammatory compounds. Blueberries, for instance, are known to reduce serum uric acid concentrations which is responsible for gout, a form of arthritis of the joints.
Kiwis and carrots also help the body produce collagen. A study of the effect of a daily intake of a collagen-boosting supplement for 24 weeks showed that it promotes joint health and prevents deterioration.
Fats and oils
It is a terrible misconception that fats and oils are very bad for your health. Two studies - one conducted on men and the other on women - concluded that fats and oils are actually beneficial, but it largely depends on the type of fat.
The best fats that should be included in your diet are monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats (avocado oil, olive oil, walnut oil, and so on).
Fish oil, for instance, contains high amounts of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. In a study that examined the effects of these compounds on the joints, participants were given fish oil with 3.6 g of omega-3 fatty acids each day in double-blind fashion, while another group was treated with a mixture of fatty acids. This was done for 12 weeks. The fish oil group had “reduced morning stiffness and a significant increase in grip strength with no side effects compared to the [other] group”.
Black currant seed oil was seen in a study to reduce inflammation and repair joint tissue.
Ketogenic diets, which are diets that have lots of fats and oils have been shown to effectively ameliorate pain, including arthritic pain.
Let’s be clear, not all fats are equal. Trans fats and saturated fats are from the evil empire and you want NOTHING to do with them (ESPECIALLY TRANS FATS). To greatly reduce your bad fats consumption, lessen the amount of fatty red meats and butter you eat.
We often think of adding spices to food in order to improve its aroma and flavor. Studies have shown, however, that spices can be highly beneficial too, especially for bone and joint health.
Curcumin (found in turmeric) has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. In a study of its effects on synovial joints, it was shown to have protective effects and to promote healthy joints. Curcumin has been studied for its exceptional benefits in reducing inflammatory episodes in arthritis.
Likewise, ginger had been studied for is positive effect on inflammation. In this study, the results were pretty amazing. Combining both ginger and turmeric improved joint health better than a very well-known drug.
The heat in cayenne peppers comes from capsaicin, and research has shown that capsaicin reduces inflammation in the stoma, and also when applied to locally for pain.
A great way to incorporate spices into your diet is with slow cooked foods (roasted, baked, stewed, etc. take away the inflammatory inducing salt and bad fats, and add some of these amazing spices. Not only will your food taste better, but it will be better for you.
Lasty, we have whole grains. Joint healthy grains include whole oats, millet, quinoa, sorghum, barley and so on. Their protective effects and anti-oxidant properties have been tagged by scientists as “impressive”, largely due to their high fiber components. Generally, these foods have been shown to improve the health of osteoarthritis patients. We did not include wheat because it has been known to be an inflammatory, especially for those with diseases such as arthritis, Celiac disease, etc.
So, there you have it - 5 scientifically proven foods that will have huge benefits on your joints, bone, and overall health. If you are prone to injuries, have a conditions that is caused by inflammation, or need to treat old joint problems, try adding these foods to your diet and see how well you you feel with a healthier, anti-inflammatory diet.
Question: Do you manage your inflammation through diet? If so, what are your favorite anti-inflammatory foods?