Eating to Reduce & Reverse Joint Pain
Usually, joint pain refers to pain or inflammation in any part of a joint area, be it the bone, cartilage, tendons, ligaments or muscles. When the joint is inflamed it is usually from arthritis or arthralgia, which causes varying degrees of discomfort and pain ultimately limiting your movement.
The most common types are knee, foot, hip, hand, shoulder, elbow and neck pain, which can manifest as osteo or rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis, or gout if it’s not a simple strain.
Old and New
Beyond having any obvious injury, joint pain is a common symptom for many of us as we age that is often perceived as a mechanical problem in our body. Surveys indicate that 30% of adults over the age of 25 experience some form of joint pain.
The body is in a constant balance between breakdown and repair, and when this equilibrium is ineffective and the body’s ability to repair is compromised, the joints wear more rapidly and the risk of inflammation increases. Of the two types of inflammation (acute and chronic) in general, acute inflammation is necessary for healing whereas chronic inflammation interferes with healing.
Role of diet
More and more, the role of diet is being shown to play an integral part in the body’s repair mechanisms and coupled with correct exercise (stretching, running and light weights), which apart from helping to tone muscles in the correct areas to give greater support and flexibility, also has the added benefit of stimulating better circulation to help nutrients reach the affected areas.
What is the optimal preventative and remedial diet for joint pain? Diet is a very personal thing, and as the saying goes, one person’s medicine is another’s poison. But let’s start with foods that are universally considered not only nutritionally poor but also irritate the metabolism and are pro-inflammatory (something we wish to avoid when we have issues with our joints).
Foods to avoid
You guessed it, it’s the usual suspects: the triumvirate of sugars, hydrogenated fats and carbs, or all that can be found in abundance in junk food. Unfortunately, it turns out that grains are also highly inflammatory, as are food allergens. The most common of which are nuts and nightshades such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants to list a few. But this is something unique to everyone, so it’s wise to get yourself tested.
Additives and preservatives usually found in packaged food can also worsen joint pain and lead to inflammation flare-ups; products like aspartame, monosodium glutamate, sodium nitrite, artificial food colourings, BHA and BHT should be avoided. Last on this list is highly processed dairy.
It can be overwhelming as we ask ourselves: What should I eat? Research from the University of Alabama suggests that we should follow a low carb diet. Luckily this still leaves us with a long list of wholesome and hearty options.
Well-sourced whole foods are key. More specifically fatty fish rich in omega 3 and vitamin D like sardines, mackerel, wild salmon, herring and trout. Cold-pressed extra virgin olive and coconut oil or something similarly healthy like avocado or flaxseed oil are great. Turmeric, garlic and ginger which are all touted to be anti-inflammatory have been shown to block specific inflammatory markers.
Grass-fed beef and other free-roaming animals such as sheep, goat and free-range poultry (and eggs) are recommended. Avoiding processed meats is a must unless the meats used are well-sourced. Ample veggies are recommended of which broccoli and asparagus are top of the list as are leafy greens like spinach, collards and kale are packed full of vitamin E, a natural antioxidant and calcium and vitamins A, C and K.
Cherries, grapes and berries contain a compound called anthocyanins which is anti-inflammatory. Because of their high levels of sugars, these fruits are a good way to satiate your sweet tooth, but in moderation. And let’s not forget watermelon, high in the carotenoid beta-cryptoxanthin. It reduces CRP, an inflammatory marker.
Coupled with what we should eat is when we should eat. There is mounting evidence that caloric restriction/intermittent fasting is an effective way to improve our immune system and thus inflammation defence with the added bonus of helping us lose some pounds and take excess stress off of some of our joints.
Good data puts you in control of your health, so taking regular blood tests is key to assessing what needs to be worked on and improved. Not only how to manage your condition but reboot the body’s innate capabilities for self-repair. By measuring inflammation markers, vitamin levels, fatty acids, minerals, and hormones you can speedily and effectively rebalance your system, by spotting deficiencies and correcting them. Order your test kit now and receive invaluable expert advice based on your results!