Joint Health: Foods, Beverages, & Supplements
Unfortunately, joint pain is incredibly common, affecting 30% of US adults, according to the CDC. It can manifest as stiffness, pain, swelling and can greatly range in intensity. Knee pain is the most common joint pain experienced, but other common areas include pain in the shoulders, fingers, and hips. Joint problems can be due to osteoarthritis, repetitive movement strain, injury or aging, among other reasons.
The good news is, there is plenty you can do to support joint pain and achieve healthy joints. By incorporating certain foods, lifestyle factors and key supplements into your daily routine, you can cool internal inflammation and decrease joint pain.
What Does Inflammation Have to do With It?
The word “inflammation” has become somewhat of a buzzword these days, and for good reason. Many chronic diseases and conditions are partially (if not fully) rooted in systemic inflammation, joint problems definitely being one of them.
Inflammation is a natural healing process that is completely necessary to protect and defend the body from disease and infection.
What is not natural is when inflammation becomes chronic rather than acute.
What is not natural is when inflammation becomes chronic rather than acute. Examples of normal, acute inflammation include redness, heat and swelling in response to an injury, wound or infection. Chronic inflammation often goes unseen and is connected with fatty liver disease, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and arthritis (among others).
What Causes Inflammation and Joint Pain?
While not all joint pain is caused by diet and lifestyle factors, many cases are, and many can be greatly improved by making some changes. Causes of joint pain and chronic inflammation include a diet high in processed foods, refined sugar and carbohydrates, rancid cooking oils (canola, soy, grapeseed, and corn), excessive alcohol, poor sleep and a sedentary lifestyle (lack of exercise).
Foods to Avoid
- Refined carbs such as white flour, bread, pasta, commercial baked goods and gluten (gluten is the protein in wheat, and is inflammatory for many people).
- Refined sugars found in candy, soda, and many processed/packaged foods.
- Processed soy such as tofu and soy milk.
- Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated (aka trans) fats such as margarine and Crisco.
- Vegetable oils such as canola, corn, soy, and grapeseed.
- Vegetables from the nightshade family might be problematic for those with arthritis, which includes tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers, goji berries and tobacco.
Foods to Include
- A wide variety of veggies and fruits
- High-quality meats, poultry and wild caught fish
- Pasture raised or organic eggs
- Healthy fats such as flax, olive and coconut oil, ghee, grass fed butter, nuts, seeds and avocados.
- Whole grains and legumes in moderation
- Anti-inflammatory foods such as ginger, garlic, cinnamon and turmeric
- Herbal teas, fresh vegetable and fruit juices and half of your body weight in ounces of water
Supplements to Include
While foods and exercise should be first and foremost, certain key supplements can be an incredibly helpful addition to soothing joint pain (and/or preventing future pain).
Glucosamine is an amino sugar that naturally occurs in the body, and plays a major role in producing both glycosaminoglycans and glycoproteins, which can be thought of as the building blocks of your joints (ligaments, tendons, etc). Supplementing with glucosamine can help to rebuild cartilage and prevent its breakdown. Something like a triple strength joint soother offers a potent blend of glucosamine, collagen and key herbs for joint support.
Omega 3 fatty acids are also essential for managing chronic inflammation, and most people don’t get enough from their diet. Aside from eating fatty, wild caught fish (like salmon), supplementing with omega 3’s can offer serious joint support. Check out our joint soother with omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids for one excellent option.
Better yet, visit our entire joint soother product page to see a wider range of nutritional and herbal supplement options to maintain optimal joint health.
Quick Note on Exercise
Many people mistakenly believe that exercise will worsen their joint pain, and this is simply not true. In fact, exercise is essential in supporting joint pain and preventing it. Exercise can improve bone density and joint mobility, not to mention that excess weight can put a lot of added pressure on joints. In fact, one study showed that sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis who did weight training for 2 years improved their joint function by 30% and their strength by 120%!
Bottom line: stay active.
By avoiding inflammatory foods and including anti-inflammatory foods, exercising and taking a few key supplements, you can be sure to support your joints to the best of your abilities. Don’t let joint pain decrease your quality of life when you don’t have to.
Always consult a doctor before starting a new diet or exercise program.
Rachel Fiske is a Holistic Nutrition Consultant and graduated from Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition in Berkeley, California. She is also a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Rachel focuses on issues of weight management, GI problems, hormonal imbalances, fatigue and more via a whole foods diet and lifestyle changes.