When you were younger, you could usually attribute joint pain to some injury sustained during physical activity. As you age, sometimes joint pain occurs without any explanation. It just shows up.
Before you accept that those aches and pains are the results of aging, however, there are things you can do to ease or eliminate much of the pain, including consuming certain foods that are effective in providing joint pain relief.
Finding the Source of Your Pain
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint condition that occurs when the cartilage between joints and bones breaks down, causing inflammation and pain. Arthritis is the most common source of joint pain, though there are other sources of joint pain not caused by arthritis. The list includes (in alphabetical order):
- Being overweight
- Carpal tunnel
- Joint injury
- Muscle strain
- Sedentary lifestyle
Even depression can cause aches and pains, so it is wise to consult your physician to discover and treat the source of the pain.
The “Mediterranean Diet”
U.S. News & World Report rates the Mediterranean Diet as the best diet in the world for overall health benefits.
That ranking has been supported by multiple health organizations over the years, including the American Heart Association.
When it comes to joint health, the Osteoarthritis Foundation International states that in a review of three studies, researchers concluded that “following a diet consistent with the Mediterranean Diet pattern is beneficial for osteoarthritis and joint health in general.”
The diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, beans, seeds, extra-virgin olive oil, and whole grains — all of which have been recognized for their ability to alleviate joint pain and slow the progression of joint deterioration.
- Fruits contain antioxidants that can reduce damage to cells. Citrus fruits are high in vitamin C, which aids in the reduction of inflammation caused by arthritis. Tart cherries, in particular, have been shown to reduce inflammation due to anthocyanins. Blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries provide a similar benefit.
- Vegetables, especially cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage, contain sulforaphane, which has been linked to a slowing of cartilage damage.
- Fatty fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation.
- Nuts, beans and seeds provide anti-inflammatory properties that include monounsaturated fat, protein for maintaining muscle mass, and fiber and nutrients.
- Extra-virgin olive oil contains oleocanthal, which is believed to dampen inflammation.
- Whole grains like oatmeal, brown rice and quinoa provide fiber that can assist in maintaining a healthy weight. In addition, some studies indicate whole grains can lower inflammation.
Many websites with Mediterranean Diet recipes can be found online, including this one at Allrecipes.
Diet Plus Exercise
A nutritious, joint-friendly diet, combined with an exercise program approved by a physician or physical therapist, is a great combination to reduce joint pain because excess weight directly impacts the joints.
According to WebMD, studies show that each pound of weight lost relieves four pounds of stress on knees.
So enjoy delicious food that is good for you and your joints, and keep moving with less pain.
Learn more about all the benefits of a healthy and active lifestyle can provide by checking out our Health & Wellness section on our blog.