Nutrition for Joints and Inflammation
Nutrition for Joints and Inflammation
Joint and muscle pains are a very common problem. When these pains are prolonged, they can cause suffering and misery, and stop us from doing the things we enjoy.
When we think of sore joints, we often think of inflammation. Inflammation is a process which involves the body’s white cells and certain immune proteins. These immune proteins protect us from infection and aid the healing process. However, inflammation can also irritate the tissues and nerves within the body, and in some cases, is associated with an auto-immune response. This happens when the body’s own immune system starts to attack its own tissues.
Several other conditions associated with joint pain and inflammation include: Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriatic Arthritis, Gout, Ankylosing Spondylitis or Axial Spondylitis, Lupus and Irritable Bowel Disease (which includes: Crohns Disease and Ulcerative Colitis). Further conditions to add to this list are Polymyalgia and Fibromyalgia.
Certain foods are thought to be Pro-Inflammatory. These are foods which may irritate any of the above conditions, causing more inflammation, and more discomfort. These foods include:
Sugar – especially fructose! so basically anything sweet. This means cakes, sweets, sugary drinks and anything else that we really enjoy eating.. typical!
Processed foods – such as Sausages, white bread, white pasta, microwave meals, salami, sausage rolls, or any food that has been changed, substantially, from its original condition. This includes mincing, adding sugar, salt, preservatives or certain fats to enhance flavour or increase shelf life.
Fried foods – chips, crisps and bacon etc, as frying damages fats. This damage can then affect how your body responds to them, and often involves inflammation. Look out for trans -fats, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats, and avoid them where possible. Be cautious of too many omega-6 fats, as these can also promote inflammation if they are not balanced out with omega-3s.
Nightshades – This group of foods has been linked to an increased inflammatory response, due to the alkaloid content. Nightshades include: tomatoes, potatoes, bell peppers, chillies and aubergines.
The aim is not necessarily to avoid these foods completely, but if you do suffer regularly from joint or muscular pain, and routinely consume a considerable amount of these foods, you may find some benefit from reducing them.
Now that we’ve spoken about foods to avoid, let’s look at the foods which we should include more of in our diet; the Anti-inflammatory foods. These are foods that you would probably expect any Dietician or Nutritionist to advise. A good rule of thumb is to think: Omega-3s, Antioxidants, and Fibre.
Green Vegetables – such as: broccoli, cabbage, spinach, kale, green beans etc are full of anti-oxidants. Furthermore, they also include fibre, some complex carbs, and water. Your body should respond favourably to these foods; bowel motility will improve, cholesterol levels will fall, iron levels rise, and blood sugar levels will stabilise. Although green vegetables are often mentioned when reading about health, it is also important to eat red, yellow and orange vegetables too. This variety of colour will provide a multitude of different nutrients, all of which will benefit your system. The better your body functions, the less irritation and inflammation you will suffer.
Grains – oats (unsweetened), brown rice, brown bread, whole grains and unrefined grains contain fibre Furthermore, they also contain more vitamins and minerals than their refined counterparts. Fibre improves gut motility (movement) and helps reduce fat absorption. It also helps reduce inflammation and bloating within the bowel, which can often lead to cramping. Your bowel is essentially a portal for the substances that we eat, to enter your system; it is the ‘door control’ of your body. Keep it happy, otherwise, it may let in unwanted customers.
Fish – certain kinds of seafood contain a type of fat known as omega-3 oil. Omega-3 oils are thought to be extremely beneficial in reducing inflammation throughout the body. Not only this, but omega-3s also help reduce cholesterol, which helps protect us from heart attacks and strokes. Fish, such as wild salmon, mackerel and sardines are good sources of omega-3s, although flaxseeds and walnuts are excellent sources too.
Fruit – fruits are generally very good sources of fibre and phytochemicals (micronutrients beneficial to our cells). However, one of the main benefits of fruit is the vitamin content. To gain a perspective of how beneficial, and important, a vitamin can be, you only need to google the symptoms of vitamin C deficiency (Scurvy) and be thankful you weren’t a sailor in the 1700s!
Vitamins are essential for life, as they complete a multitude of functions throughout the body. If you are lacking certain vitamins, you could easily be suffering from symptoms without understanding why. As with most advice, variety is the key. lots of colours to ensure all the vitamin requirements are met, along with the added bonus of fibre, and those all-important phytochemicals.
There is, of course, much more information out there about healthy joints, arthritis, and nutrition. The aim here is to keep it as simple as possible.
Try to be honest with yourself about your diet and nutrition. If you think you could, or should do better, that’s a good start. Eat more plants and plenty of colours. Eat a little more healthy fish, and really focus on removing the harmful sugars and fats from your diet where possible. Plan your meals and be conscious of portion size, remove sugary drinks completely. Top all this off with some regular exercise, as this keeps those joints moving and the cartilage within them nourished. Do more right than you do wrong, which should help you to stay motivated and continue in that direction.
For more information on Nutrition, click on the image below, or search Amazon Book for:
‘Understanding Nutrition’ by Jason Houghton
Thank you for reading.. 🙂
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