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The Best and Worst Nutrients for Your Joints

The Best and Worst Nutrients for Your Joints

Learning about natural joint pain relief can be a handy tool in your self-care routine. Let’s face it: when was the last time you thought about your knees?

Or your wrists? Your fingers?

Joints are one of those things we only think about when there’s a problem.

Even if you don’t have arthritis and live a healthy and active lifestyle, your joints could probably use a little TLC. Knowing the best and worst nutrients for your joints could help you prevent or correct invisible damage that leads to painful conditions in the future.

Practicing yoga, cycling, jogging, weight lifting, squats, HITT, Crossfit, and even typing on a computer or your phone can cause extra stress on your joints.

Healthy joints allow your body to move freely and comfortably, the way it’s supposed to be. Modern diets have lost some of the essential nutrients needed to keep articulations lubricated. With the amount of work we put them through, at some point, they need help.

Creaky ankles, knee pain, sore wrists - all signs that you may need joint pain relief.  

The good news is that there are ways to get natural joint pain relief and reduce inflammation. The best part? Most of them taste great and feel wonderful.

Why Your Joints Need Lubrication

A joint is a connection between two bones. It’s not just your knees and elbows; there are between 300 and 400 joints in the human body! It depends on how you count them: not all joints allow movement, some provide stability instead.

For example, your hands and feet have multiple joints.  Your joints allow you to give the peace sign, hail a taxi, shake your booty, keep your head up, and bend your back - they’re critical parts of your everyday life.

The joints that enable motion and flexibility are surrounded by cushioning fluids that make facilitate that action. Cartilage, synovium, and synovial fluid protect the bones from friction, providing a barrier that keeps them from rubbing together. 

Age, wear, injury, oxidative stress, and excessive weight may slowly deteriorate these substances leading to stiffness, pain, inflammation, and in the worst cases, arthritis.

If you ever wondered what you could take to lubricate your joints naturally, start with the nutrients listed below and avoid the ones that may cause inflammation. Caring for your joints today will help you keep them stronger, well-padded, and flexible for longer.

 

The Best Nutrients for Natural Joint Pain Relief: 

So now you’re asking, what can I take to help my joints? Some supplements and foods support lubrication and aid joint pain relief. These are the nutrients you should be looking to add to your diet.

Vitamin D: 

The body uses Vitamin D to absorb calcium from food. Most of the time, your organism can synthesize Vitamin D from sunlight, but since people spend a lot of time indoors and too much sun exposure could lead to UV radiation you can get it from food or supplements.

Where to Find it: fatty fish, fortified milk; egg yolks; vitamin supplements.

Calcium: 

Calcium supports bone health, muscle control, and circulation. The human body does not naturally produce calcium; it must be derived from food sources.

Where to Find it: leafy greens like spinach and kale, dairy products like yogurt, milk, and kefir, edamame, fortified dairy alternatives like almond milk.

Collagen:  

Collagen is one of the building blocks of cartilage and natural production starts to decline in your mid-twenties. Adding collagen to your diet could help prevent cartilage decay and be a source of natural joint pain relief.

Where to Find it: animal products such as bone broth and cartilage. There is no vegan collagen, but there are plant-based alternatives.

Vitamin C:

It is necessary to absorb and produce collagen and could also support natural joint pain relief by reducing inflammatory processes. The USDA recommended daily intake of Vitamin C is 90 milligrams for men and 75 milligrams for women.

Where to Find it: oranges, pumpkin, limes, grapefruit, papaya, strawberries, mangos, bell peppers, and supplements.

Anthocyanins:

The antioxidants found in red and purple fruits could lower a reactive protein that signals inflammation in the body (C-reactive protein allowing your body to naturally reduce joint pain by neutralizing the free radicals that contribute to tissue degeneration.

Where to Find it: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, acai, red cabbage, and other red and purple colored foods.

Turmeric:

One of the most well-known benefits of turmeric is rooted in its anti-inflammatory properties. Arthritis and joint pain come from inflammation and wear, and this ayurvedic root could help reduce its damage. Add black pepper or heat to increase turmeric absorption if you’re getting it from a supplement or as a dried spice.

Where to Find it: turmeric or curcumin supplements, in the raw form, or as dried spice powder.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids:

Research shows that Omega 3 could reduce rheumatoid arthritis inflammation. A staple of the Mediterranean diet, it’s easy to get more of it in your diet through food or supplements like fish oil.

Where to Find it: Extra virgin olive oil (read more about the benefits of olive oil,) fatty fish, chia seeds, flax seeds, almonds, walnuts, eggs, etc.

Pycnogenol:

This little known nutrient is mostly found in the European Bark Tree, a plant with numerous antioxidant health benefits that also has the OPC phytochemical (Oligomeric Proanthocyanidin) a compound that has also shown anti-inflammatory properties in some clinical studies.

Where to Find it:  pine bark and organic Arctic pine bark supplements.

Hyaluronic Acid:

Supports natural joint pain relief with potent lubricant capacities that act as a shock-absorber. It has become one of the go-to resources for medical intervention in knee-pain management; however, it is usually injected. Fortunately, you can also get it from food.

Where to Find it: brown rice, pumpkin seeds, beef, and other sources of protein that boost the organic production of hyaluronic acid in the body.

Astaxanthin:

A powerful antioxidant made out of the xanthophyll carotenoid; according to research, it may modulate the immune response, inhibit cancer cell growth, inflammation and oxidative stress. It supports natural joint pain relief repairing and preventing the conditions that lead to swelling and decay.

Where to Find it: supplements, algae, yeast, salmon, trout, krill, shrimp, crayfish, and other -mostly pigmented- marine animals.

Ocimum Sanctum:

Also known as Holy Basil, it’s not a common nutrient in your diet but it could be another anti-inflammatory superfood. Some studies suggest that it could suppress the expression of some inflammatory markers, which in turn triggered the prevention of cancer cell migration. These findings and “could be useful in the development of new therapeutic strategies for inflammation-associated cancer.” 

Where to Find it: Holy Basil leaves, powder concentrate, and supplements.

Sulforaphane: 

Studies suggest that sulforaphane might inhibit the expression of some key metalloproteinases involved in osteoarthritis, block enzymes that destroy joint cartilage and help reduce inflammation. 

Where to Find it: cruciferous vegetables like kale, spinach, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate

You may have come across this compound before if you’ve been treated for joint pain or had an injury.  Research on glucosamine shows that it’s a slow-acting but effective combination to treat stiffness, pain, and inflammation. It’s naturally produced by your body, like collagen, and it plays a critical role in cartilage maintenance.

Where to Find it: usually harvested from the shells of sea animals like shellfish, animal bones, or some fungi, it is typically available in supplement form. Vegan options are available from artificial sources.

Foods To Avoid for Joint Health

Just like there are nutrients that may help with natural joint pain relief, there are foods that contribute to joint degradation and pain. Reduce, avoid or completely cut out the following if you feel signs of joint pain, inflammation, or swelling.

  • Fried and processed foods
  • Processed sugar 
  • Refined carbs (white flour baked goods, pasta, etc.)
  • Soda
  • Sugar-filled fitness drinks
  • Excess salt and sodium preservatives
  • Trans fat (like vegetable corn oil)
  • Red meat
  • Alcohol

In general pro-inflammatory foods may contribute to joint fluid degradation and oxidation, a healthy and balanced diet that focuses mostly on vegetables, fruits, and whole foods is the best way to keep your body in optimum health. Supplements help you compensate whatever your diet may lack due to time, stress, or accessibility issues - and that’s OK!

Bottom Line:

Aging is inevitable, and most people will experience various degrees of joint inflammation issues throughout their lives: swelling, pain, redness, stiffness, etc. Exercise and a healthy diet keep wear and tear on cartilage, joints, and tendons in check.

If you’re working out regularly or suspect joint inflammation, start adding these nutrients to your diet as preventative care. Natural joint pain relief is possible when you follow an anti-inflammatory diet and support your body with all the vitamins, minerals and supplements that it needs to thrive at every age. 

Bear in mind that even OTC supplements could interact with other medications you may be on, so please inform your preferred licensed physician before you start taking one. Here’s to your healthy joints!

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