Keep Your Joints Healthy And Protected With These Simple Tips!
Everyone has experienced aches and pains in the joints and you don’t have to be in your 40’s or 50’s to experience that. A joint is the connection between two bones. Joints and their surrounding structures allow you to bend your elbows and knees, wiggle the hips, bend your back, turn your head and wave your hands and point or grip with your fingers.
There are many causes of joint pain. The main one is as a result of arthritis, which also causes stiffness and inflammation. Even in young and active people, arthritis is a result of a sports injury, like for example a dislocated joint or a torn ligament which were suffered earlier in life.
Cartilage represents the soft tissue padding present between all joints and bones and acts like a shock absorber to cushion the joints so bones don’t rub together. These connective tissues experience a lot of wear, tear and damage over time. Increasing age, injuries or sitting the wrong way or even carrying too much weight can cause a lot of wear and tear. The best way to improve the health of the cartilage is to reduce this wear and tear, as well as the inflammation, increase the nutrients and antioxidants in the area, which will provide the joints with substances which will help them rebuild.
In order to decrease pain, doctors often prescribe medications that ward off and slow the progression of joint damage and inflammation. Researches have also found that foods with anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties can be effective addictions to pain management plans, while other foods will also help slow the damage and repair what has already been done when they’re used consistently.
Eating For Joint Health
The connection between food and joint health is special. Certain foods can actually help ease and promote joint comfort.
Foods Rich In Antioxidants
These foods help a lot in fighting free radicals, which damage the joints and contribute to discomfort. Antioxidants include vitamin A (or beta carotene and other carotenoids), vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium. Foods which contain any of these four antioxidants are very powerful in fighting free radicals.
- Vitamin C: grapefruit, papaya, oranges, mangoes, raspberries, pineapples and tomatoes, as well as vegetables such as asparagus, red peppers and broccoli
- Vitamin E: avocados, whole-grain breads and cereals, sunflower seeds and peanut butter
- Selenium: salmon, Brazil nuts, oatmeal and brown rice.
Foods Rich in Fatty Acids
Some fatty acids are protective by nature. They can reduce swelling and discomfort in joints. The most common types of fatty acids are omega-3s. Some excellent sources of these acids are: cold water wild caught fatty fish such as salmon, sardines and herring, as well as green vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
Glucosamine, Glutamine & Chondroitin
These components are a part of the cartilage structure. They are necessary to help repair and strengthen the joint. Glucosamine is made in the body from glucose (sugar) and the amino acid glutamine and is used as the starting material for tendons and ligaments, mucous membranes in the digestive and respiratory tracts, nails, skin, bone, eyes, heart valves and synovial fluid in the joints. Food sources rich in high concentrations of glutamine include raw parsley and spinach.
Trace amounts of glucosamine are also present in the exoskeletons of edible crustaceans like: shrimp, lobster, crab and crawfish, because it is a component of their shells and tails. In most of the Western culinary traditions, these exoskeletons aren’t consumed because they are very difficult to chew and digest. But, you can use the exoskeleton by grinding it into a powder and blending it into soups, stews, pasta sauces and casseroles. Unfortunately, shellfish meat contains a very small amount of glucosamine, so you can’t consume medicinal quantities of this compound by eating only the animal’s flesh.
Chondroitin is actually formed from a long chain of sugar molecules and it acts as a “liquid magnet”, helping to attract fluid into the tissue molecules. This component comes from natural sources like shark or bovine cartilage or it can be made in a laboratory and then placed into supplements.
You must ensure an adequate hydration. Low water consumption can cause the cartilage to become dry and contribute to further degrading of the tissue. If you think of your joints like a sponge, imagine how much more easily two wet sponges can move against one another than two dry, hard sponges. A proper hydration throughout the day will give your body some advantages. Water helps you maintain an adequate blood volume so that nutrients can move through your blood and into your joints. Water also allows waste products to move out of the joints.
Reduce Body pH
We know that acidic foods can actually contribute to inflammation and acidity which wears down the cartilage and joints. Acidic foods are: red meats, dairy, wheat, sugar, tea, coffee, alcohol, preserved and processed foods. Try increasing alkalizing foods to reduce the inflammation and acidity.
Foods with an alkalizing effect are:
- Lemon juice
- Nuts & Seeds
Other Ways To Care For Your Joints
The best way is to keep them, as well as the muscles, ligaments and bones strong and stable. Here are several tips for good joint health:
Watch Your Weight
A healthy range of weight is the best thing for your joints. The higher the number on the scale is, the more wear and tear you put on your joints. Weight-bearing joints like your knees, hips and back, have to support some, if not all of your body weight, which is why many overweight people have problems with these areas of the body.
If you lose some weight, it will reduce the pressure on your knees, hips and back and help you prevent joint injury. Researches show that whenever you gain a pound, you put four times more stress on your knees.
Exercise For Healthy Joints
Exercise can really help you lose weight and maintain it healthy. A research suggests that aerobic exercises that get your heart rate up can actually reduce joint swelling. If your joints bother you, do exercises that won’t give your joints a pounding. Instead of running, jumping or step aerobics, try some low-impact exercises as swimming, dancing, elliptical machines or bicycling.
Don’t just sit still! Couch potatoes, computer addicts and all people who spend too much time sitting, have a very high risk of joint pain. Less movement means more stiffness in your joints, so start moving! Also, try changing positions frequently! Take breaks at work and stretch or go for a short walk. If you can’t leave the office, take some phone calls while you’re standing.