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Fact File - 8 Foods To Ease Joint Pain

Do you suffer from back or knee pain, sore joints or perhaps you have arthritis? When anything goes wrong with the workings of our muscles, bones, joints and the connecting tissue, pain is the first indication. It can be excruciating and debilitating and the first thing we reach for are the painkillers. Certain foods have been shown to ease inflammation, alleviate symptoms and improve your quality of life. What follows are the 8 foods you would benefit from including in your daily food intake whether you suffer from painful joints, or are simply protecting your joints against future ailment.

 

1. Dark Leafy Green Vegetables   

This may seem like quite a broad spectrum, however, what we mean by this are veggies such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, spinach and collard greens.  These vegetables are all part of the cruciferous family that are packed with a compound called suloraphane – research has shown that this compound helps to slow cartilage damage. These vegetables are also high in calcium, which is known for its bone-building benefits.

 

2. Fatty Fish   

This includes fish such as salmon, herring, sardines, tuna, trout and mackerel – all of which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, heart healthy fats, known to fight inflammation. It is recommended that you consume at least 3-4 portions of oily fish a week.

 

3. Soy   

If you aren’t a fan of fish and know that you will struggle to get your weekly quota of omega-3 fatty acids, then we suggest you perhaps try some heart-healthy soy products. Several studies have suggested that isoflavones (estrogen-like compounds) found within soy products may help lower inflammation levels in women.  However, you should avoid heavily-processed soy, which are likely to not include the same benefits. Instead, choose soy milk, tofu and edamame (boiled soybeans).

 

4. Tart Cherries   

Research has shown that the anthocyanins found within the cherries (the ingredient that gives cherries a lovely deep red colour). Have an anti-inflammatory effect. Anthocyanins can also be found in other red and purple fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. A study that was carried out showed that tart cherries helped athletes improve their performance and reduce their use of anti-inflammatory pain medication. And just if you were wondering, yes they have got to be tart – sweet cherries just don’t seem to have the same effects!

 

5. Garlic   

Garlic contains a compound called diallyl disulfide, which rheumatologists suspect may have some effect on limiting cartilage-damaging enzymes.

 

6. Olive Oil   

Extra virgin olive oil contains oleocanthal, which has properties similar to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

 

7. Nuts   

Nuts have many health boosting properties, but for this circumstance, nuts are especially helpful due to their inflammation-fighting healthy fats. They are also packed with antioxidants which can help your body fight off and repair any damage caused by inflammation. Just be sure to have plain nuts, and leave the salted/roasted/flavoured ones on the supermarket shelf.

 

8. Whole Grains   

Consuming whole grains, rather than refined such as white bread, white rice and white pasta can help keep harmful inflammation at bay. The reason for this is because whole grains contain more fibre, which has been shown to decrease levels of C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation in the blood) – they also usually contain less sugar.

 

Last but not least, we feel it is just as important to highlight what types of foods to avoid when it comes to protecting your joints.

Foods high in sugar and saturated fat can heighten inflammation. According to Scott Zashin MD, clinical professor at the University of Texas, “They cause overactivity in the immune system, which can lead to joint pain, fatigue and damage to the blood vessels”. We also felt it important to mention the importance of maintaining a healthy weight, as this will enable your knees to function without unnecessary pressure. 

 

Click here to read more about the impact that your weight has on musculoskeletal challenges.

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