As we age, joint health becomes an important part of living as many quality years as possible. Our joints are susceptible to wear and tear, inflammation, and pain over time, but the good news is that we can support the health of our joints through diet. In this write-up, we’ll talk about nutrition strategies for promoting joint health and reducing inflammation so we can get more quality years out of our bodies.
There are 6 important nutrition factors to consider when it comes to joint health, including:
Vitamin D and Calcium
Supplements - glucosamine & collagen
Omega 3s: You’ve probably heard of these fats before; they’re considered anti-inflammatory which means eating more of them may help improve joint health. These healthy fats can be found in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and trout, as well as in plant-based sources such as flaxseed, chia seed, and walnuts.
Joint Health Challenge: Eat at least 2 servings of fatty fish per week, and/or incorporate plant-based omega 3 sources every day.
Antioxidants: Antioxidants help reduce inflammation and protect our joints from damage. Some important antioxidants for joint health include vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene. Great sources of these antioxidants include berries, citrus fruits, bell peppers, sweet potatoes, and leafy greens.
Joint Health Challenge: Eat at least 3 servings of colorful fruits and vegetables daily (more is better!).
Vitamin D and Calcium: Vitamin D and calcium are important for maintaining strong bones and supporting joint health. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and is necessary for bone formation. Good sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, fortified dairy products, and egg yolks. Calcium can be found in dairy products, leafy greens, and fortified plant-based milks.
Joint Health Challenge: Aim to eat at least one serving of dairy per day. If you choose to not eat dairy, be sure to eat one food source of vitamin D and one food source of calcium each day. If you think that you’re not getting enough vitamin D and/or calcium through your diet, supplementation could be an alternative route. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like recommendations on supplements.
Anti-Inflammatory Spices: Incorporating anti-inflammatory spices into your meals can provide additional joint health benefits. Turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon are well-known anti-inflammatory spices that also make your food taste delicious.
Joint Health Challenge: Add one of these spices to a meal on a daily basis. Try them in smoothies, teas, soups, or in oatmeal.
Hydration: Proper hydration is very important for joint health…it helps maintain joint lubrication and prevents your cartilage from breaking down.
Joint Health Challenge: Drink half of your body weight (in pounds) in ounces of fluid every day. All fluids count besides alcohol, which has the opposite effect and dehydrates you even more.
Supplements: While I always like to take a food-first approach, there are a couple of supplements that may help with joint health. First, glucosamine has some research showing that it mildly reduces joint pain and may improve joint function. Second, collagen; taking a serving of collagen 30-60 minutes before working out may help improve joint strength. These supplements are not magic bullets when it comes to joint health, but they may help.
Joint Health Challenge: If you’re interested in going the supplement route, email me and I’d be happy to give you glucosamine and collagen recommendations.
If you want to focus on improving your joint health, choose at least one of the above “Joint Health Challenges” and try it out for a month. By incorporating these dietary strategies, you can support your joint health and help reduce inflammation. Remember: nutrition is one piece of the puzzle when it comes to joint health. If you make these nutrition changes and your joint pain persists, consult your doctor.
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