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Foods For Joint Health

by Lauren Larson MS, RDN July 29, 2015

Foods For Joint Health

Regular exercise, keeping good postural strength, and taking glucosamine are great ways to take care of your joints. The foods you eat, as well as your body weight can also greatly influence joint health.

Omega-3s are healthy fats found in fish, walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and other foods. Getting more omega-3s in your diet can help reduce the cartilage damaging activity of certain inflammatory compounds. If you just don’t like fish or don’t eat it regularly, consider taking an omega-3 supplement with 1000 mg of a combination of EPA and DHA to get the benefits.

Olive oil is rich in healthy fats and contains a compound that can prevent the production of pro-inflammatory enzymes in the same way that NSAIDs (e.g. Aspirin, Ibuprofen) do. Use olive oil for salad dressings, adding to smoothies, or cooking over medium heat.

Certain fruits like apples, blueberries, raspberries, and cherries also contain chemicals known as anthocyanins that give them their dark color and also inhibit the same inflammatory chemicals in the body that drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin do. Eat these fruits as a snack or dessert, and add them to smoothies, oatmeal, and salads.

Sulfur-rich foods like egg yolks, onions, garlic and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, and radishes) are linked with joint health. Sauté onions and garlic as a base for most of your meals, and add hardboiled eggs to salads along with some cruciferous veggies.

Ginger and turmeric are important anti-inflammatory spices that can be added to meals like oatmeal or smoothies for a slight “zip” to the flavor, while ethnic dishes like curries are loaded with turmeric, which is derived from yellow curry.

intake of vitamin D has been associated with an increased risk for rheumatoid arthritis, which destroys the joints over time. Checking your vitamin D levels every 6 months, taking a vitamin D supplement if needed, and eating vitamin D containing foods like cod liver oil, salmon, mackerel, tuna, egg yolks, dairy products, and mushrooms, are all ways to make sure you are getting enough.

If you’re looking for a general way of eating to support healthy joints, consider adopting the Mediterranean diet. This includes about ten servings of vegetables and fruits a day; plenty of whole grains, legumes, and nuts; minimizing red meat and dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese); eating fish at least two times a week; drinking red wine in moderation; and using olive oil in cooking and salad dressings. The Mediterranean diet is rich in antioxidants, polyphenols, fiber, and omega-3s, and eating this way can reduce some of the pro-inflammatory markers in our blood.

Lastly, carrying extra weight can put stress on your joints. Each pound of body weight lost translates into a 4-pound reduction in knee joint stress and cumulative reduction in knee load of 4,800 pounds per mile walked. And for a person losing 10 pounds, each knee would lose 48,000 pounds of compressive stress for each mile walked. Maintain a healthy weight with a good diet and a balance of calorie intake with calories burned with activity.

References

Alleviate Achy Joints — Healthful Fats and Whole Foods May Relieve Symptoms. http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/040212p12.shtml.

http://www.webmd.com/osteoarthritis/news/20050629/small-weight-loss-takes-pressure-off-knee

Lauren Larson MS, RDN
Lauren Larson MS, RDN


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