Foods for Healthy Joints

Joint pain can be the result of many different issues. From arthritis, bursitis and gout to tendinitis and just plain overuse. Muscle injury or cartilage degeneration can lead to arthritis. Regardless of which form of arthritis, rheumatoid or osteoarthritis, inflammation is the key to joint pain. 

Of course you can take over the counter anti-inflammatory pain relievers, but you can also choose certain foods and nutrients that will help reduce inflammation and, in turn, reduce pain.

What are anti-inflammatory nutrients? They are foods that contain antioxidants and fatty acids. How do they work? Antioxidants fight “free radicals” in your body. Free radicals are damaged cells due to inadequate oxygen that seek out and attack healthy cells for the molecules they are lacking. Damaged cells cause problems such as inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oils) curb and overactive immune response that leads to tissue degradation and pain.

You can get these in supplement form or, better yet, real food like these:

• Green tea is loaded with natural antioxidants called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which has been found to stop the production of inflammatory chemicals in the body. Preliminary research suggests that EGCG and other catechins in tea may also prevent cartilage breakdown.

• Fish is recommended two times a week. Fish contains the highest concentration of naturally occurring omega-3 fatty acids. Choose from a variety of wild or farm-raised salmon, herring, sardines, anchovies, rainbow trout and Pacific oysters. You can also get Omega-3 from seeds including flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds and walnuts.

• Olive oil contains oleocanthal. This compound works in much the same way as ibuprofen and aspirin by blocking the inflammatory pathways. Use olive oil when cooking instead of butter or vegetable oil. For the highest concentration of antioxidants, choose extra virgin olive oil.

• Carotenes are powerful antioxidants found in many fruits and vegetables such as cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, kale, butternut squash and spinach. Additionally, beta-cryptoxanthin (also a carotenoid) has been found by researchers to reduce the development of inflammatory arthritis. These foods include winter squash, persimmons, papaya, tangerines, red peppers, corn, oranges and apricots.

• Vitamin C is highly responsible for healthy collagen in cartilage. Consider eating more guava, all types of bell peppers, oranges, grapefruits, strawberries, pineapple, broccoli, kidney beans, kiwi and cauliflower.

• Anthocyanins are powerful antioxidants (more powerful than vitamin C) that inhibit the production of inflammatory chemicals in your body and contribute to healthy connective tissues. They eradicate free radicals that cause tissue irritation. Think of dark red-skinned foods such as cherries, berries (blackberries, blueberries, elderberries, raspberries, boysenberries, strawberries), black currents, eggplants, plums, red and black grapes.

• Ginger and Turmeric are effective spices that contain phytonutrients with anti-inflammatory effects. Turmeric, an Asian spice often found in curry and ginger can add abundant flavor to your meals or be steeped in a tea with lemon and honey, use them in stir fries and baking too.