The human skeleton is provided with the ability of motion and flexibility with around 360 joints in our body, some are fixed and non-moveable like the ones in our skull while others are slightly moveable with limited motion in certain directions like the ones between our vertebrae. Majority of the joints are moveable called ‘synovial joints’, named after a fluid present in the joint cavity.
Joint is an uncomplicated yet intricate structure by design, with tendons and ligaments to hold the bony structure together as well as various cushioning agents to provide lubrication and shielding/protective support overall. There is a cartilaginous support between two bony surfaces of a joint that bears the wear and tear of our daily activities. The greasing power of any joint comes from the synovial fluid, a special gel like liquid that is responsible for the lubrication as well as nutrition of the joint.
As we age so do our joints, therefore, it is important to keep these junctions in best of their shape because a diseased joint brings along dependency that could range from a limited motion to being immobile and we do not want to lose our freedom and liberty, do we? Therefore, we will shed some light on two aspects of our daily rituals that could help maintain our self-sufficient state regarding our mobility and joints. These features are our diet and some exercise.
Let us begin with the food intake and see how we can improvise it for a better joint health.
Gracious food for healthy joints
We are what we eat right, so here are some specific foods items that you must want to incorporate into your diet menus. The food we consume helps our joints in three ways;
Some of them may help boost the nutritional status of your joints while other may stimulate the cartilage production, still, others would help your body in warding off inflammatory processes within the joint structure that may destroy or deteriorate it.
Anti inflammatory foods for joints
- Extra virgin olive oil lowers the inflammatory processes
- Fatty fish contains Omega-3 fatty acids, an anti inflammatory agent
- Garlic, Leeks, and Onions belong to the vegetable group that has abundant of Sulphur containing compounds. It helps fight inflammation and reduces the requirement of sodium intake, which is another pro-arthritis agent
- Apples are a convenient way of keeping your skin and its appendages healthy, including bones and joints. They contain quercetin that is a collagen building material, and more collagen implies strong built cartilage
- Almonds are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids (anti-inflammatory agent), vitamin E (anti oxidant, fights the free radicals) and manganese (an aid to glucosamine function in joints)
- Chia seeds are excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and essential amino acids that help the repair processes throughout our body
- Pineapple and papaya contain Bromelain, an enzyme with anti inflammatory properties
- Coconut oil helps hydrate the joint tissue and works as an anti inflammatory agent
- Fruits like bananas and avocado rich sources of potassium, the deficiency of which is linked to arthritis
- Turmeric contains Curcumin, an anti-inflammatory agent and is the latest research topic for arthritis.
- Ginger acts as an anti inflammatory agent with analgesic properties
- Kale contains vitamin C and manganese that render pain-relieving properties. The copper contained in these vegetables is a raw material for collagen
The University Of Maryland Medical Center recommends an anti inflammatory diet for healthy joints that includes many of the food items mentioned above. As a general rule, fresh vegetables and fruits, legumes and whole grains, lean meat portions, and healthy fats make up most of the menu. Particularly important are garlic, onions, parsley, watercress, celery and lemon for their anti-inflammatory potential. A plentiful water intake accelerates the anti-inflammatory process.
Many studies have revealed that collagen-boosting diets can stimulate the growth of new cartilage in joints.
“In 2012, researchers from Case Western University examined 400 patients with arthritic knees, treating some with collagen. 93 percent of the patients taking collagen reported significant reduction in pain and improvement in joint mobility in as little as two weeks”
- Vitamin C and D are a great aid in building up of collagen, which is the backbone of the cartilage, thus food items enriched with these two vitamins should be part of a diet regime intended for healthy joints. One can get vitamin C from most fruits and many vegetables, especially citrus fruits, kiwi, berries, sweet peppers, cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cauliflower, and leafy greens.
- Vitamin D is more of a preserving agent for cartilage. Get your vitamin D from fatty fish, dairy foods, eggs, soymilk, UV-treated mushrooms and fortified foods.
- Bone broth is recommended for joint vitality, the Weston A. Price Foundation suggests incorporating rich bone broths into your soups, stews and other dishes. Bone broth contains an enriched mixture of Collagen, Magnesium, Protein, Manganese, Copper, Zinc, Iron, Calcium, Potassium, Glycine, Proline, Chondroitin sulfate, Glucosamine sulfate.
- Glucosamine sulfate is particularly important in retarding the deteriorating processes classical of osteoarthritis. Similarly, Chondroitin sulfate blocks the enzymatic activity against the joint structure.
- Legumes are an important source of proteins for the buildup of collagen. Legumes contain a high content of lysine, an amino acid that is essential for cartilage regeneration.
- Besides being a rich source of vitamin C, Pomegranates are also observed to be an aid to “expression and production of several mediators of cartilage catabolism in osteoarthritis”. Put it simply, it acts as a protective mediator of cartilage in our joints.
- Foods boosting the levels of hyaluronic acid, like bone broth, organ meat, red wine (in moderation), many root vegetables (as carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, lotus root), brown rice and pumpkin seeds must be added to your dietary schedules.
- Food items with soy are good joint supplements because of their ability to produce estrogen in the body, which is again a catalyst for hyaluronic acid.
- Extra virgin olive oil is lubricating in nature, being enriched with lubricin, a protein that improves the protective and lubricating abilities of synovial fluid.
Joint friendly exercises
Diet and exercise go hand in hand as far as our muscles, bones, and joints are concerned, “move it or lose it”. However, not every exercise is sympathetic to our joint structure. Here are few tips and guidelines for a joint friendly activity.
- Stay within your limits
It might sound a little rough but maintaining the discipline about the extent of exercise would help you in the long run. Try getting some help from a pro in physical training and establish the confines of a muscle-building pain and injurious ache. Start slow and proceed slowly, building up your strength and endurance. Always lend an ear to your body.
- Reposition your posture
Sit up straight, a yell almost every one of us has listened to while growing up and probably the best one. Aligning your body posture according to the type of activity can guard your joints against various subtle injuries, which might prove damaging with age.
- Build muscle
A strong muscle is a good indicator of bone resilience. Building up of muscles can reduce strain on your joints particularly your spine, hips, and knees, which are the major weight bearing junctions. A well-built muscle brings about a good amount of blood circulation to the specific bone, thus increasing the nutrient supply.
- Put together a strong core
Your chest, back, and abdominal muscles make up your core, a strong core leads to a perfect posture, which in turn supports the entire skeleton, and helps combat any injury.
- Recognize your type of exercise
This aspect of physical training is extremely important. Some people might take up aerobics that might not get a support by cardiac activity, resulting in exhaustion and cardiac strain, while for some individuals; aerobics is just what the doctor ordered. Yoga and other low impact exercises might be a good choice for middle age cohort until the time you have built up enough endurance. Strength training is always a fair and safe choice in general.
- Protect your body
Always guard yourself against injury by adopting suitable exercising gear and save your joints from unwanted and uninvited stress.
The trick to healthy joints is to build physical endurance and stamina, allowing your muscles to bear the stress out instead of your joints. Cycling, swimming and stair climbing are multiple joint exercises that are low impact in nature and can be adopted at any age. There are many exercises that are developed according to specific joints, however, before starting strength training or flexibility training, a posture evaluation by your doctor can go a long way towards healthy joints.