There it is again. That achy, debilitating pain.
Joint pain is very common – about 1 in 3 adults report having joint pain. Many people feel it in their knees, shoulders, hands or hips, and if it isn’t properly addressed, it can seriously affect wellbeing. While there are many supplements and topical treatments available, one of the best ways to treat join pain is by reflecting on your diet and incorporating keep foods and nutrients into your routine.
Understanding Joint Pain
Before designing your diet, it’s important to understand the science behind the pain you’re feeling. Joints form the connection between bones, providing support and mobility for the body. Generally, they’re made up of cartilage, a synovial lining, and ligaments. Many conditions, like arthritis, strains or sprains, can lead to inflammation, which is at the heart of joint pain. This is what you want to have in mind when choosing your foods – preventing and reducing inflammation through a wholesome, healthy diet.
1. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish rich in Omega-3s, such as albacore tuna and salmon, are some of the best foods to combat inflammation and joint pain. Omega-3s, specifically EPA and DHA, have been found to reduce inflammation and even enhance anti-inflammatory drugs, but it does require regular dosage. If you aren’t a fan of fish, consider incorporating a fish oil supplement into your daily routine. Or, if you don’t eat fish, you can find ALA, another omega-3 fatty acid, in some nuts and seeds, which your body then converts to EPA and DHA.
(And for the record, the science says vegetarians and vegans shouldn’t be concerned about this being their only source of omega-3s – there is no need to consume animal products/supplements!)
2. Green Tea
That’s right, even tea can help fight inflammation! But why green tea? Green tea contains a natural antioxidant called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which isn’t found in black tea. In several studies, it was discovered that EGCG helped inhibit the production of several molecules in the immune system that contribute to inflammation and joint damage, namely in people with rheumatoid arthritis. By essentially “shielding” your cartilage from breaking down, green tea is both a helpful preventative and proactive remedy for joint pain.
3. Whole Grains
This one comes with a caveat – it’s not that you should eat more grains, but than you should replace refined grains and grain products with added sugar, which has been linked to inflammation. Plus, by eating more whole grains, you’ll be adding more fiber to your diet. Fiber plays several important roles in the body, one of which is to reduce levels of C-reactive protein, which can be a marker of inflammation in the blood.
4. Vitamin D
We all know Vitamin D is good for your bones, but did you know it also helps lower your risk for arthritis and joint pain? In fact, if you have chronic bone and joint pain, it may be due to a vitamin D deficiency. Unfortunately, outside fish and milk products, few foods have vitamin D. But that doesn’t mean you need to compromise your diet to get this essential nutrient. Instead, add a 20-minute stroll in the sun to your daily routine.
According to the Journal of Medicinal Food (not to mention thousands of years of Chinese medicine), ginger plays a special role in our health. Among a host of other benefits, ginger has been show to inhibit the induction of several genes involved in the inflammatory response, modulating biochemical pathways in our bodies and curbing inflammation. Even better, ginger is an easy ingredient to add to just about every dish!
Your Overall Routine
With these few foods in mind, begin design your diet to avoid inflammation, your target in fighting joint pain. Outside of diet, though, it’s also recommended that you take a holistic approach to renewing your body on a regular basis. Be sure to incorporate regular stretching and yoga into your day, add a salt bath to your routine, get plenty of rest, and be sure to reward yourself with Yogi Surprise!