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Eat Well: How Food Impacts Your Joint Health

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Our joints can be considered the unsung heroes of our bodies. It is because of joints that we are able to move freely, explore the world, and support an active life. Joints are a complex system of muscles, tendons, cartilage and bones. Just like any other system, they also need proper conditioning to function optimally. This is where nutrition steps in. 

Incorporating nutrition-rich food is a good way to promote joint health and prevent future injuries. In this blog, let’s explore the interesting connection between what we eat and our joints’ health. We will explore more details about dietary patterns, vital nutrients, food choices, joint health and nutrition tips, etc. 

Understanding The Types of Joints 

We all learned in school that joints are the points where two or more bones come together and meet. They are the prime source of making your body flexible. Some of the significant components of joints are mentioned below-

  • Synovial Fluid: They are responsible for lubricating the joints to avoid increased friction along with wear and tear. 
  • Cartilages: They cover the ends of the bone and are smooth and rubbery in texture. They also help in reducing friction significantly. 
  • Tendons: These are the tissues that connect a bone with muscles. They come in handy during any movement as they facilitate it.
  • Ligaments: They are crucial tissues that are responsible for aiding the stability of the body. They are the bridge between two bones. 
  • Synovial Membrane: It is present around the joint capsule and is responsible for producing the synovial fluid.

The Building Blocks of Healthy Joints

Here is a brief overview of how some nutrients affect the health of a joint- 

  • Proteins: They are essential in maintaining and improving joint health. They are required for the growth, maintenance and repair of tissues hence, they are also tagged as building blocks of our body. So, if an adequate amount of protein is taken → repairing after injury or wear and tear is done effectively. 
  • Vitamin C: Vitamin C helps produce collagen in our body. The collagen are considered the building blocks of ligaments, tendons, and cartilages. 
  • Calcium & Vitamin D: They are the holy grail for promoting bone health. As we all know, calcium is the primary mineral found in the bones, and Vitamin D ensures that calcium is absorbed into the bone. 
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3s contain strong anti-inflammatory capabilities. Inflammation is considered a major player in damage and joint aches. Foods like fish, flaxseeds, walnuts, etc., can be consumed for this. 
  • Collagen: Key role in maintaining the structure and integrity of connective tissues – cartilage, tendons and ligament providing cushion effect on two joints and preventing them from grinding together. It helps reduce pain and inflammation along with providing healing for joint recovery.
  • Chondroitin and Glucosamine: Both need to be supplemented, along with collagen, as they are beneficial in maintaining joint health. They support structure and reduce inflammation due to anti-inflammatory responses while alleviating joint pain.

Diets to Consider For Optimal Joint Health

Don’t get us wrong, specific nutrients are important to maintain healthy joints, but a holistic dietary approach is also as important. So, we have listed a few diets and lifestyles for joint health that you can consider-
Research states that the diets given below can be helpful, but they should be planned using an individualised approach. Each individual has a different genome structure, so a customised approach to diet should be followed.

  • Mediterranean Diet- If you have tried any Mediterranean dish, you must have noticed that the food contains a heavy amount of vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and fruits. It also contains healthy fats like olive oil. This kind of diet comes with benefits like weight management and anti-inflammatory benefits, which are considered important for enhancing joint health.
  • DASH Diet: The DASH, or Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension, the diet was created to manage blood pressure efficiently. It requires consuming low-fat dairy products, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. This diet is also very effective for weight management and reducing inflammation. 
  • A Vegan Diet: A diet consisting of a variety of fruits and vegetables, along with legumes and whole grains; this kind of diet is also considered effective in reducing inflammation. 

Hydration: Adequate water intake is a core essential above all kinds of diet as it’s not only crucial for joint lubrication but also overall health, i.e., boosting metabolism, absorption of nutrients, gut health, and maintaining the body's pH.

Food Options For Happy Joints

Now that we have read about what nutrients we need and what diets we can consider to promote joint health, let’s take a look at some foods you eat to promote joint health and nutrition tips- 

  • Lean Proteins: Incorporating lean protein sources like chicken, beans, and lentils will act like giving your body the building blocks it needs to repair itself.
  • Fatty Fishes: Fishes like tuna, mackerel, and salmon are fish in omega-3- 3 fatty acids.
  • Healthy Fats: Nuts and seeds contain healthy fats that are good for your joint health.
  • Vegetables and Fruits: Cruciferous vegetables like kale, cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts contain antioxidants and phytonutrients that help combat inflammation. Fruits that are vibrant in colour, such as oranges and berries, also contain antioxidants and phytonutrients.  
  • Whole Grains: Quinoa, oats, brown rice, and other whole grains are some of the grains you can incorporate into your diet.

Foods You Must Avoid To Achieve Better Joint Health

Here is a list of foods you can avoid to promote healthy joints- 

  • Red Meats: While lean proteins are considered good for joint health, excessive consumption of red meat can also lead to inflammation. 
  • Refined Grains: Pastries, white bread, etc. can spike the blood sugar level leading to increase in inflammation. 
  • Added Sugar: Excessive consumption of sugar leads to an increase in your body weight that adds to the stress on your joints.  
  • Alcohol: Excessive consumption of alcohol leads to inflammation and bad joint health. 
  • Processed Foods & Trans fat: These kinds of foods are loaded with sodium, added sugar, etc. and excessive consumption can lead to an increase in inflammation.  

While it is important that you add good nutrient-rich foods to your diet, some other aspects that you must consider for optimal joint health are- managing your weight effectively, staying hydrated, along with strength training.  Nutrition plays a key role in maintaining good joint health and avoiding degenerative processes. Please remember a holistic approach to maintaining your joint health includes- eating good food, maintaining a good fitness routine, along with making appropriate lifestyle changes. Follow Granimals for much such content. 

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Q1- What foods strengthen joints?

A1- Here’s a list of food options you can consider for improved joint health- 

  • Lean proteins
  • Fish
  • Turmeric
  • Ginger
  • Yoghurt
  • Green tea, etc. 

Q2- Which fruit is best for joints?

A2- According to the latest research, tart cherries are considered one of the best fruits individuals can consider for better joint health and conditions like osteoarthritis. 

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