How Do I Eat for Joint Health?
“How do I eat for joint health?” is a question we associate with aging. The truth is, young, active individuals can have joint issues just like the older population. While younger people likely have joint pain from sports injuries and activity, the aging population can experience similar pain due to inflammation, deterioration of the joints and various forms of arthritis.
The good news is whether you are 23 or 63, you can add specific foods to your diet to help improve your joint health. On the same note, you can also remove certain foods that can potentially contribute to chronic inflammation in the body. Foods that are highly processed as well as high in added sugar and saturated fat are at the top of the removal list. While convenient and tasty, they are typically low in nutrients. Fried food, packaged sweets, chips, candy, soda and similar foods are the ones to cut back on or even avoid.
Not to fear, the foods that are good for your joints are just as tasty and can help reduce inflammation to make your joints stronger and healthier. Here is a top 10 list of foods for joint health:
- Berries – All berries are rich in nutrients and anthocyanins, which are antioxidants that help fight inflammation and give berries their rich color. They also contain ellagic acid, another antioxidant. Try toping your yogurt parfait with berries or adding them to a salad.
- Walnuts – While all nuts contain healthy, inflammation-fighting fats, walnuts top the chart with omega-3 fatty acids. However, they are also high in calories, so it is important to watch your serving size. Consider crumbling them into oatmeal, sprinkling them on a salad or having a handful as a snack.
- Orange and yellow fruits and veggies – Loaded with beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A in the body and strong antioxidant, orange and yellow fruits and veggies are a great addition to your joint health eating plan. They contain beta-cryptoxanthin that can help ward off inflammation disorders like arthritis. To include them in your diet, try dipping carrots or squash in hummus or blending orange fruits in a smoothie.
- Turmeric – Turmeric is rich in curcumin, an inflammation-fighting antioxidant that may ease arthritis pain and swelling by blocking the effects of pro-inflammatory enzymes and chemical pain messengers. To enhance turmeric’s effect, research suggests adding a pinch of black pepper. The piperine in black pepper can increase curcumin’s power by 2000 percent! Try adding an inch of turmeric root to a smoothie!
- Dark Green Vegetables – From Brussels sprouts to broccoli, green veggies are where it’s at when it comes to health! They are full of vitamin C and other antioxidants that can help buffer damage to joints. Add spinach and kale to a breakfast smoothie, a salad to lunch or roasted veggies to dinner.
- Tart cherries – With five times the antioxidant power of vitamin C, tart cherries are at the top of the “to eat” list for joint health. Their high anthocyanin content is what makes them so powerful in fighting inflammation. Try tart cherries blended into a post-workout smoothie or added to a snack mid-afternoon.
- Salmon – Fatty fish like salmon, trout, mackerel and sardines are full of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Research suggests they might help reduce joint pain and stiffness by suppressing the production of enzymes that erode cartilage and proteins that regulate inflammation. Try eating salmon or another fatty fish two to three times per week.
- Red peppers and Citrus Fruits – Red peppers and citrus fruits are brimming with vitamin C. It helps your body make collagen, which is part of your cartilage, tendons and ligaments that cushion your joints and help hold them together. Red peppers can be eaten cooked or raw and are a rich nutrient addition to any omelet, snack or salad.
- Ginger – While you make think of it to reduce nausea, ginger can also help ease joint pain by blocking several genes and enzymes that promote inflammation and discomfort. Try sipping on a glass of ginger tea or adding fresh ginger to a stir-fry.
- Onions – High in quercetin a flavonoid that is a category of antioxidants, onions might help your joints. Quercetin helps the body fight off free radicals that can damage joints. Try sautéing onions with other veggies for lunch or dinner.
If you are interested to hear more and receive personalized nutrition, check out STYR’s app, fitness tracker and suite of connected smart devices. Through the platform, you can track and log activity, food, hydration, sleep, nutrition, mood and more to personalize your nutrition needs based on data, science and access to registered dietitians, nutritionists and personal trainers.
Please note that this information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. We insist that you always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical/health condition or treatment and before initiating a new health care regime. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the STYR app or on www.MyNutritioniQ.com.