It’s all well and good to treat joint pain with daily exercise and stretches. These practices are invaluable to leading the healthy, pain-free lifestyle that you strive for. But this is something we hear so often, and what’s more, it presents a different challenge: time management.
We all live busy lives. And indoctrinating a daily regimen of physical self-care can seem daunting when we are already stretched thin as it is.
But what if there was an easier way? What if you could take something that you already do every day and turn it in your favor?
Take, for instance, your diet. There are foods that not only help reduce joint pain but can help prevent related conditions as serious as arthritis or fibromyalgia.
So what are these magic foods that can save you from chronic pain and inflammation? Thankfully, they are readily available at any of your local grocery stores. In fact, you may already be consuming some of these nutrient-packed foods without even realizing the benefits.
When you eat these foods in the right proportions, you can turn your need for food into a tool for recovery and long-lasting health.
Joint pain and inflammation
When you’re looking for foods to alleviate joint pain, what you’re really looking for is to reduce inflammation. Inflammation occurs as the result of white blood cells rallying together to fight off an infection from bacteria or a virus.
But sometimes this process takes place unnecessarily and unexpectedly. Arthritis, an autoimmune condition of chronic inflammation, is characterized by aching joints and constant pain. In this scenario, the immune system triggers a white blood cell response when there is no infection to fight off.
However, joint pain isn’t exclusive to arthritis or other like conditions. If you have suffered an injury such as a sprain or a break, inflammation may be a common residual effect. As a result, joint pain may very well be something you live with every day.
However, we promised the existence of foods that can help reduce the inflammation that causes joint pain. These are typically full of all types of nutrients that serve the body in various helpful ways. Not the least of which to make you, in the most literal sense, feel better.
5 foods to help alleviate joint pain
Here we have broken down some of the most helpful foods into categories.
Omega-3 fatty acids
The first thing many people think about in reference to omega-3 fatty acids is fish oil. In fact, most lists you read when dealing with inflammation-reducing food will kick off with fish. There are many types of fish, as well as other foods, you can eat to receive this anti-inflammatory nutrient.
Some of the highest concentration of two types of fatty acids — EPA and DHA — are in fish oils, which you can naturally find in, you guessed it, fish. Some of the best sources of these two types of fatty acids are cold-water fish such as salmon, trout, and sardines.
The “3” in the name refers to the three fatty acids that fall into this category of natural healing: the aforementioned EPA and DHA and ALA, which is found in primarily in nuts. Try snacking on walnuts or pistachios between Friday fish fries for a good dose of omega-3s.
Other sources of omega-3 fatty acids include olive oil, soybeans, or edamame. And if you have the means, experts consider walnut oil to contain up to 10 times as much of these acids as olive oil.
These acids not only limit stiffness and pain in the joints, they can also work in tandem with anti-inflammatory medication.
Fruits and vegetables
With the end goal of reducing inflammation, you don’t want to eat just any fruit or vegetable. The key here is antioxidants. Fruits and vegetables that are replete with this nutrient are a sure way to reach your goal.
Typically, the more colorful the fruit or veggie, the better it will be for your joint pain. Go after dark, leafy greens and dark-colored fruits to get those antioxidants you need.
Another great place to get these antioxidants are cruciferous vegetables: cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, spinach, and especially broccoli. Broccoli, in particular, is rich in vitamin K, which fights blood coagulation and chronic inflammation. It also contains the compound sulforaphane which experts believe could prevent or at least slow down the onset of osteoporosis.
It may be surprising to consider that the spices you use with your food can, of themselves, reduce inflammation. In fact, spices have a rich history in treating certain maladies, including this. Turmeric, in particular, is used in traditional Asian medicine for this reason. And, as indicated in Indian cuisine, it also serves as a tasty and healthy way to spice up your food.
Try mixing in turmeric or ginger in with your food to help reduce swelling in the joints. Receive some inspiration with some of these suggestions.
Beans carry two powerful anti-inflammatory nutrients: fiber and protein. In fact, they are probably the cheapest and one of the best sources of the latter — there are 15 grams of protein in just one cup. They also help to reduce CRPs (C-reactive proteins) in the blood, which are key in creating inflammation. Knock those bad boys out of the way with your good proteins and you’re well on your way.
The best sources of the nutrients here are red, kidney, and pinto beans, according to the ultimate arthritis diet.
To reduce joint pain and inflammation, you need foods rich in antioxidants, full of fiber, and packed with nutrients. And what fits that profile better than whole grains? Whole grains reduce levels of those pesky C-reactive proteins that cause inflammation.
Try switching to whole grains and ditching those refined grains for a more painless lifestyle. This includes moving from white to brown rice and buying whole wheat bread. You can also try steel-cut oats or quinoa for something a little different.
These are examples of foods that naturally attack C-reactive proteins and eager white blood cells, which cause inflammation. If you are experiencing chronic joint pain, however, it is also important that you come in and see a chiropractor. Food can help relieve the pain but might not necessarily attack the source of the inflammation.