How do you feel about bending at the knees?
Do you hear anything?
Is it stiff?
Do you feel the creaking more than you can hear it? Or does it flat-out hurt?
Our general health status, daily activities, and diet have a huge impact on how our joints feel. A lot of the time, it’s just the wear and tear of life. You clear age 35 or 40, and wow – suddenly just getting up brings a whole new flood of sensation to the joints.
Does it have to be this way, though?
Today, we’re talking about how to address joint pain through diet. We’ll learn more about foods good for joints and cartilage, reasons why our joints ache, and the right foods for joint health.
Are you ready to make your best effort toward greater mobility?
Let’s get started.
Cartilage: Bringing Bones Together
Take it from those who know: bare bone rubbing against bare bone hurts. Not to mention, we wouldn’t be able to move so fluidly if there wasn’t something to soften the blow.
For example, with your knees, the tibia and femur meet at the patella. These three bones bumping up against one another? From an evolutionary and anatomical standpoint, this makes little sense.
Enter cartilage, a connective tissue.
While most tissues are soft, and bones are hard, cartilage bridges the gap in terms of strength and texture.
If bones are a door and its frame, knee cartilage would be the hinges. Firm yet flexible, we have different types of cartilage throughout our bodies.
Hyaline cartilage – Articular cartilage belongs to this group. This is the cartilage present in our joints.
- 2Elastic cartilage – Containing elastin, this cartilage is the kind that makes up our ears.
- 3Fibrocartilage – Containing both type I and II collagen, this cartilage is present in the pubic region, the vertebrae, and the sternum. It also accompanies articular cartilage in our knees, making up the meniscus.
Cartilage is more than just a shock absorber. It also contains synovial fluid. When we use our joints, it secretes some fluid to lubricate the area. This function is absolutely critical to joint health.
Therefore, while working for the wellbeing of our joints, you have to take all of these parts into account. The bone, cartilage, and fluid within are what allow us a comfortable, pain-free range of motion.
Joint Pain Causes
First, we must consider the cause of our joint problems.
For example, arthritis impacts more than 50 million people, and is a leading cause of disability. While food for knee strengthening might help, it’s really best as a complement to treatments laid out by your doctor.
All told, more than 100 conditions carry joint pain as a symptom. On top of arthritis, conditions are very wide-ranging, and include:
And the list goes on, and on, and on.
Mineral deficiencies, such as a magnesium deficiency, are even known to make joints stiff and achy. Of course, pretty much all of these conditions carry other symptoms you may notice before joint pain sets in.
This is why it’s wise to consult a healthcare professional first when you have chronic pain.
Know for a fact you’re in good health otherwise?
Here are a few other reasons why your joints just aren’t working like they used to.
For most of us in good health, the two most common culprits will be repetitive movement and age. Before we can enjoy healthier, more comfortable movement, some adjustments in diet and behavior are necessary.
Non-Dietary Ways to Care for Joints
Ultimately, you could be making a temporary injury permanent by attempting to “power through” it.
This is a tall order when you’re an adrenaline addict. In general, those who exercise a lot should aim to take two full days off weekly from their workout routines.
Been hitting the gym hard, or are you more couch-oriented? In fact, neither lifestyle is great for the joints. If you work out often, and your joints don’t feel their best, this is a clear sign you need to slow it down.
If the pain and inflammation is great, see rest days above and give yourself time off to heal.
But if you never exercise, start doing light to moderate exercise a few times per week. Your joints are probably stiff because they’re not putting enough work in.
Movement can help increase production of lubricating fluids, as well as resolve stiffness and preserve cartilage flexibility.
If you’re doing the same high impact or aerobic routine daily, switch it up. Similarly, if your job finds you making the same moves over and over, find new ways to get things done.
When stooping, reaching, stretching, or exercising, stick to proper form. For instance, when you bend at the knees or squat, your knees should stay in line with your ankles. When doing floor stretches, flex the feet to protect knee joints.
Also, keep your spine straight and long whenever possible, especially when upright. Poor posture leads to improper weight distribution, which is bad for joints.
Foods Good for Joints and Cartilage
In addition to proper exercise, weight management, and injury recovery, food can help lengthen the life of your joints.
What kind of food?
The best foods for joint health are high in antioxidants and help us control inflammation. They also contain vitamins that help us produce what we need for healthy cartilage and bones.
Here are ten of the best:
- 1Kale. Don’t stop at kale, either – in addition get plenty of broccoli, collard greens, and Brussels sprouts as well. Along with other greens, kale is a good source of vitamin K. Those with a vitamin K deficiency might be more prone to osteoarthritis. Getting plenty of vitamin K could help prevent those joint aches from progressing to a full blown, prohibitive condition.
Beans. Food for joints lubrication works only because the nutrients help our bodies do what they need to do to heal. Beans contain protein, fiber, and minerals, all of which help us fight inflammation and produce cartilage-repairing collagen.
- 3Nuts. Like beans, nuts provide vitamins and minerals, as well as protein. But they’re also a source of fatty acids that have anti-inflammatory benefits. With respect to minerals, magnesium in nuts can help us produce hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is necessary to the fluid that lubricates joints.
- 4Cherries. When in season, you should always pick up some cherries. Thanks to anthocyanins, they’re so rich in antioxidants that they can help quell the pain of osteoarthritis and gout.
Fresh cherries not available often where you are? Some tart cherry juice – click for price work just as well, or better.
- 5Pineapple. Anytime we’re discussing the health benefits of pineapple, bromelain is sure to appear. For those who don’t know, bromelain is an enzyme that can reduce pain, inflammation, and swelling. If the cause of your joint pain is injury or stress, this is one of your key foods. Drink the pure nothing added juice – click for price, or add fresh pineapple to your smoothies.
Oranges. Oranges and other citrus fruit like lemons and grapefruit are well known for their vitamin C. Because vitamin C is water soluble, we must consistently get adequate amounts.
Our bones and cartilage depend on collagen to stay strong and healthy. To make collagen, we need vitamin C. It oxygenates amino acids which help us produce our own natural collagen.
This makes more sense than taking collagen from another source, since production and consumption are two completely different processes.
Brown rice. Want to avoid triggering inflammation? Get healthy whole grains like brown rice. Also, brown rice can be a good source of selenium. Selenium is a mineral that arthritis sufferers are often lacking.
Additionally, it’s a good source of zinc. When you add it all up, brown rice is another ideal food good for the creation of hyaluronic acid.
Turmeric. While you’re adding in foods good for joints and cartilage, don’t forget your potent anti-inflammatory spices. Turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves are our top picks in this arena.
However, there may be too little curcumin in your store-bought turmeric powder. For this reason, I recommend trying the fresh rhizome for maximum pain-relieving results.
Bananas. The combination of fiber and potassium make bananas a great choice for dealing with joint pain. Like magnesium, low potassium levels can lead to stiffness and pain.
Although, there are more foods to add in addition to bananas, if potassium is a problem for you. Head on over and read my article on foods that are high in potassium.
- 10Oatmeal. Any reputable source on arthritis will tell you this one dietary secret. White and refined grains are inflammatory, while whole grains have an opposite effect.
Rather surprisingly, plain old oatmeal is full of some comprehensive nutrition. It has larger amounts of protein and fiber, plenty of minerals, and smaller amounts of B vitamins.
The Worst Foods for Joints
If the above foods are good for our joints, there must be foods that aren’t. Unfortunately, some of our most popular Standard American foods contribute to the inflammation which characterizes joint problems and pain.
If you’re serious about your mobility, here are some you should limit or avoid.
Moreover, too much coffee can be dehydrating, which counterproductive when you’re encouraging joint lubrication.
Finally, because many caffeinated drinks are diuretics, we lose minerals easily in our urine. This compromises bone health, which is clearly necessary to overall joint health.
Not all joint pain spells arthritis. In general, life just catches up to us. Whether we’re sedentary or always on the go, time will challenge our joints.
But we can act before it affects our daily activities even more. When we add in more whole grains, fruits and veggies, we’re finding the perfect companion to traditional medicine.
Not to mention, a joint-healthy diet can reduce your risk of many other diseases and conditions, including:
- Heart attack
- Some cancers
- High blood pressure
What’s good for your heart is good for your joints, too!
I want to know how joint pain impacts your day. Has getting up in the morning become more difficult?
Do you know of any foods good for joints and cartilage?
Share your experience and advice below, and let’s learn from each other.