Eating Well to Prevent Joint Pain
As the saying goes, you are what you eat. The impact of diet on your body probably goes even further than you think, even to how well your joints function. It’s true - the food and drinks you consume can contribute to joint pain or, if you’re eating healthy, help bring relief to those achy knees.
For healthy joints, it’s important to get plenty of physical activity and rest. But it’s also important to follow a healthy, balanced diet. While joint pain can be the result of a variety of factors or physical conditions such as arthritis, it might also come down to something as simple as eating the wrong foods.
To help you prevent joint pain and inflammation, here’s a quick guide of what you should choose and avoid:
- Fried and Processed Foods: If you have frequent joint pain, it’s time to cut ties with French fries, prepared frozen meals, and that morning doughnut. Doing so can help reduce inflammation in your joints.
- Grilled or Pasteurized Foods: When food is heated, grilled, fried, or pasteurized, a toxin known as advanced glycation end product (AGE) develops. And this toxin is known to damage proteins in the body and ultimately increase inflammation. To reduce AGE levels, limit your consumption of foods cooked at high temperatures.
- Sugar and Refined Carbs: High levels of sugar can also lead to AGEs and inflammation. So be sure to cut back on candy, white flour (including pasta and bread), sodas, baked goods, and certain cereals.
- Dairy Products: Researchers believe these contain a protein that may irritate the tissue around the joints, ultimately increasing pain in the area.
- Trans and Saturated Fats: These are found in foods such as red meat, high-fat dairy products, shortening, and packaged foods such as cookies and crackers.
- Salt and Preservatives: While these are typically added to extend a product’s shelf life, it also may extend the amount of inflammation in your joints.
- Alcohol: Excessive alcohol consumption can increase your chances of developing gout, a severe type of arthritis.
- Healthy fats: Omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats are actually the good guys. In addition to a variety of health benefits, some studies have also found that Omega-3s in particular can help relieve pain from rheumatoid arthritis. Foods to go for include olive oil, nuts, flax seeds, avocados, and certain types of fish such as tuna and salmon.
- Fiber: Foods high in fiber include bread, fruits, veggies, whole grain pasta, and cereal with at least five grams of fiber per serving.
- B Vitamins: B vitamins can help decrease inflammation, so be sure to increase your intake of vitamins B6, B12, and B9 (folic acid). These can be found in foods that come from animals, such as fish, meat, poultry, eggs, as well as nuts, seeds, brown rice, whole grains, and leafy greens. Most fortified cereals are also rich in B Vitamins.
- Garlic, Ginger, Turmeric: These antioxidant-packed herbs are known to help decrease inflammation and reduce pain from arthritis.
- Water: If you haven’t been drinking the recommended eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, it’s time to start. If you don’t drink enough, your joints won’t get the lubrication they need to keep them healthy.
Crozer-Keystone Health System offers comprehensive musculoskeletal care. From conservative approaches to managing pain to spine and hand services, rehabilitation, and joint replacement surgery, our sports medicine physicians and the physicians of the Premier/Crozer-Keystone Orthopedics Partnership can help determine what plan works best for you. Appointments within 48 hours; call 1-877-CK-MOTION (1-877-256-6846) or visit www.crozerkeystone.org.