Joints allow us to live and move in the way that makes us happiest. Don’t let illness, injury, age, or an unhealthy diet take joint health away from you.
Joints are nature’s hinges. They let you bend, twist, and move in all the intricate ways that make our lives enjoyable from rock climbing to dancing. Unfortunately, when joints are damaged due to illness, injury, or age, your movements become filled with pain rather than fun.
This discomfort and restriction of joints can be caused by many things, including strains, sprains, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis, gout, and other injuries. Affecting one-third of all adults, joint pain is a hidden epidemic, and the immobility and aches only get worse as we age.
Here are 15 foods to improve joint health and get your life back:
- Garlic, Leeks, and Onions
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Red Bell Pepper
Are you ready to take control of your health naturally through food? There are many foods that can ease pain, reduce inflammation, and increase your mobility.
FOODS FOR HEALTHY JOINTS: A RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS DIET PLAN
Staying hydrated reduces the risk of injury and keep joints well lubricated. Drink plenty of clean water and eat fresh fruits.
Most fresh fruits and leafy greens will help ease your joint pain. They supply water to keep joints, and muscles hydrated and are full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.
However, most of the benefits of these plant foods are only available when we eat them raw. This keeps the antioxidants and enzymes intact so our bodies can put them to use.
1. Garlic, Leeks, and Onions
You probably use one or more of these in your cooking regularly. These are all related to one another and contain a powerful sulfur compound that fights inflammation and pain.
They also help flavor food so you can use less sodium. High levels of sodium intake have been linked to arthritis as well as high blood pressure.
Do you remember the old saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away?” Well, in this case, apples really can help you improve your mobility. Apples contain quercetin, which helps build collagen, a main component of cartilage. They are a crisp, delicious way to keep your skin, cartilage, and bones young and healthy.
You can easily incorporate these into your diet by slicing them and eating them with peanut butter or other nut butters. Or, try an Autumn inspired recipe: Apple-Spice Protein Pancakes are a great way to get in some apples and part of your daily serving of protein.
These nuts are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and manganese. Omega 3 reduces inflammation and gives you some extra mobility. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects your body from damage. And, manganese helps glucosamine work quicker and more effectively as it repairs your joints.
You can simply eat almonds by themselves as a snack or incorporate almonds into your breakfast with a No-Fuss Risotto Style Sunbutter Oatmeal. This is comfort food at its best with the added bonus of keeping you active.
The seeds of this quick growing plant are an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids and essential amino acids the body needs to repair and lubricate your muscles, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage.
They can be sprinkled on any food, or you can make a jam and spread them over your morning toast. This Acai Berry Jam combines the superfood benefits of acai with chia to give you an energy boost in the morning. You won’t need coffee.
Purslane is considered a weed by most people, but it is one of the best plant sources of omega 3 you can find. It grows easily, so you can plant it in your backyard and watch it spring up. Or, the plant can be found in many ethnic or health food grocery stores.
The leaves can be used as a substitute for spinach in many recipes. So, you can blend it in a smoothie, make a salad, or sauté it with other vegetables.
Bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapple, has anti-inflammatory effects and reduces pain. By reducing inflammation, pineapple helps take the pressure off your joints and gets you moving. It’s great for sprains, bruises, and cuts too.
You can combine the anti-inflammatory benefits of pineapple with omega 3 from chia to help your joints by making our Pina Colada Chia Pudding. Even stir in chunks of pineapple to get more from this recipe.
This fruit is rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, and enzymes similar to pineapple. To read more about the additional benefits of pineapple and papaya, check out this article. Vitamin C reduces the likelihood of developing arthritis, and vitamin A acts as another antioxidant to reduce damage.
It’s easy and yummy to eat papaya. Replace your evening dessert with a Papaya Boat. Simply cut the papaya in half, scoop out the seeds, and the fill the papaya with other berries, nuts, and seeds. For added sweetness, drizzle the papaya boat with agave.
The first pressings of the olive fruit are the richest in antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids to reduce inflammation and pain. Olive oil is great to cook with, but shouldn’t be used at a high heat. The high heat destroys the nutritional value of the oil.
One of the best ways to eat olive oil is to drizzle it on a salad. Or, you can stir some herbs into a small dish with the oil and dip some bread into it.
8. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
9. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is rich in essential oils that reduce inflammation and pain, hydrate tissues, and protect against viruses, bacteria, and fungi that deal damage to your body. It can be used both internally and topically.
Coconut oil can be used to cook at a higher heat than olive oil. So, use this oil for sautéing and ditch your vegetable oil.
All peppers are rich in vitamin C, but the red bell pepper is one of the best. It also contains plenty of vitamins A and K along with phytonutrients that act as antioxidants. Vitamin C is known to reduce pain. Red bell peppers also have a touch of capsaicin which depletes pain compounds in nerve cells.
You can eat red bell peppers raw by slicing them into strips and using them to scoop up some tasty hummus. Or, use the bell peppers as shells to stuff with rice and beans, and then bake them in the oven.
10. Red Bell Pepper
These fiber-rich fruits are great for weight loss because they leave you feeling fuller longer. They are also a great source of potassium. Potassium has been linked to joint health, so deficiencies can result in arthritis.
For some inspiration for how to integrate bananas into your diet, try this Banana Coconut Creamsicle Smoothie after some light exercise.
This mild fruit is often added to savory foods or used in guacamole, but is also full of powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. It is also another good source of potassium and omega fatty acids.
This Lemon Garlic Avocado Mousse pairs perfectly with a Mexican inspired entrée. Or for something more traditional, try our guacamole recipe with some tortilla chips.
This spice, commonly used in curry, has a secret. Curcumin, the component that gives this spice its bright yellow color, is a potent anti-inflammatory being studied for its ability to combat heart disease, arthritis, and cancer.
If you want more information on how you can get relief from your arthritis pain with turmeric and prevent cancer, check out our article on turmeric.
To implement turmeric into your diet, try making some Thai and Indian dishes. But, if you don’t like the taste, when you blend a teaspoon of turmeric in a smoothie, you can’t even taste it, and you’ll still get the anti-inflammatory benefits.
Ginger is related to turmeric and carries many of the same anti-inflammatory and pain-fighting properties. It is often used for nausea, but it can do so much more. Ginger contains anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols. These compounds help to reduce your pain.
You can boost your health with other herbs and spices as well. Check out our more complete list of herbs and spices for your health.
During the holidays, make these Molasses Ginger Cookies. You’ll get the health benefits, but also get to indulge in the holiday season.
These greens are rich in vitamin C and manganese for pain management and tissue repair. They also contain copper which helps build collagen for cartilage and ligaments.
You can try this Purple Potato Salad to add kale to your diet. This is a great side dish for a picnic or a barbeque.
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Plant-Based Collagen Building Protein Peptides
Here’s how collagen peptides reduce inflammation and support your joints:
- Collagen is the glue for your entire body
- Your joints are primarily made up of type 2 collagen
- Collagen peptide builders can help you make more collagen to keep your joints young
- Collagen can reduce the inflammation in your joints and allow them to function properly
FOODS TO AVOID IF YOU HAVE JOINT PAIN, INFLAMMATION OR ARTHRITIS
There are also many things you should avoid to keep your joints in tip-top shape. Keep an eye out for foods that will slow you down and limit your movement.
1. Red Meat
Too much protein (especially the more acidic animal proteins) is actually bad for you and can damage to joints. Stick to plant-foods as much as possible for your protein intake.
Dairy is a known allergen that causes inflammation and arthritis symptoms. Many people have significantly helped their arthritis by simply cutting dairy from their diet.
This stimulating ingredient dehydrates you and pulls minerals from the body. It has also been linked to joint pain.
4. Trans Fats
Processed vegetable fats are much more damaging than saturated fats. They cause weight gain and inflammation and carry free radicals that harm cellular structures and DNA. They have been linked to cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Another allergen, soy can cause inflammation and other problems. Chia seeds, flax, and hempseed are better sources of quality protein and essential fats.
6. Processed Foods
In general, processed foods are full of sodium, sugar, trans fats, and cell-damaging free radicals. They also contain chemicals like phthalates, BPA, and synthetics that are linked to cancers, excessive weight gain, behavioral changes, and many other diseases.
Prolonged use of processed foods increases the sensitivity of the body to allergens and chemicals which results in auto-immune responses and chronic inflammation.
VITAMINS THAT EASE YOUR ARTHRITIS PAIN
When you have arthritis, it is important to take vitamin supplements to ensure the health of your joints. But did you know that synthetic vitamins can harm your health rather than benefit it? Check out our article on the difference between synthetic and whole food vitamins.
Sunwarrior Raw Vitamins for Her and Raw Vitamins for Him are USDA certified organic, dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free, and vegan. They are made with NO synthetics and NO fillers. You can easily absorb the vitamins because their ingredients come from whole food sources.
TIPS TO IMPROVE JOINT HEALTH OUTSIDE OF FOOD
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to keep joint pain, inflammation, and arthritis at bay.
Weight and activity levels play large roles in joint health. Extra weight compresses joints, can do heavy damage to cartilage, and limits the body’s ability to keep joints lubricated. Work on losing any extra pounds to have healthier joints, especially in the knees and back.
When moving causes pain, it’s easy to stop being active, but that decision will only make things worse. Even if you are only moderately active, you will have better joints than those who are less active.
Joints require movement to be healthy. Disuse causes the joints to stiffen and the tissues attached to them to weaken. That means muscles, tendons, and ligaments deteriorate as you allow the pain to keep you from moving.
Low impact exercise is a good way to keep your joints moving, strong, and well maintained. Focus on exercises like walking, cycling, swimming, and yoga to ease your pain, keep your tissues strong, and lubricate those joints.
Finding exercises for your arthritis can be rough. Join Sunwarrior's Fitness Challenge for specific workout and meal plans to help you keep active and help you to eat for your joint’s health.
The sun also helps your joints. A few minutes of sunlight a day will supply you with all the vitamin D you need. Vitamin D lowers the risk of developing arthritis and many other diseases including obesity, diabetes, and cancer.
You can manage your pain without pills. Different forms of alternative medicine can help you get moving without the side effects from medication.
Acupuncture, massage, physical therapy, chiropractic, and hot and cold therapy can make a dramatic difference in your pain levels. Try them to see what type of alternative medicine works best for your pain.