With an estimated 92 million people in the United States reporting doctor-diagnosed arthritis or arthritis-like symptoms, it’s fair to say that the collective health of joints in our country is fairly poor. Whether you’re already experiencing joint pain and/or inflammation or you’d like to prevent the problem from developing, a few diet tweaks can make a difference.
To help, the team here at Western Orthopaedics pulled together a few nutrition tips that can help you both prevent and manage joint pain. While we offer full joint replacement services here at our practice, this should be a last resort only after trying to promote better joint health from every angle.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at how you can eat your way to better joint health.
Target inflammation with joint-friendly foods
Arthritis is simply a catchall term for diseases that lead to pain and inflammation in your joints. This means that a joint-healthy diet is one that will target (and reduce) the inflammatory response in your body.
Some key foods that accomplish this are:
If you like seafood you’re in luck, as fatty fishes contain omega-3 fatty acids and ample amounts of vitamin D, both of which fight inflammation. Some good examples of fatty fishes are salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines. If you don’t like fish, you may want to take a fish oil supplement.
Nuts and seeds
A handful of nuts and seeds each day can also do wonders for your joints. Nuts contain inflammation-fighting monounsaturated fat, so you’d do well to add walnuts, pistachios, almonds, or pine nuts to your daily diet.
Fruits and vegetables
There are almost innumerable health benefits to adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet, and we’re going to add joint health to the long list. Fruits and vegetables are chock full of antioxidants that fight off free radicals that can wreak havoc on your cells.
We know that fruits and vegetables are huge categories, so we’re going to narrow this down a little further to address joint health. For example, dark, leafy greens (kale, spinach, and broccoli, as examples) protect against inflammatory agents. Citrus fruits that contain vitamin C (think oranges and berries) promote collagen production, which is critical for joint health.
Extra virgin olive oil
Another great joint health food is extra virgin olive oil, which contains oleocanthal. This plant chemical acts a lot like a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication in your body, which is good for joint discomfort.
Aside from the above, there are other foods that you can add to your diet to promote better joint health, such as beans, garlic, onions, whole grains, and green tea.
What foods to avoid for healthy joints
We’ve concentrated here on what to add to your diet, but we also want to spend a moment discussing what to eliminate. One of the primary culprits behind system-wide inflammation is sugar and refined carbohydrates. This includes foods like candy, cookies, cakes, pretzels, crackers, chips, white pasta, and white bread.
We suggest that you take steps to reduce your sugar and refined carb consumption, which can have a wonderful effect on your joint health.
If you have more questions about what to eat to promote good joint health, feel free to contact one of our offices in Arvada or Denver, Colorado, to learn more.