Building Happy, Healthy Joints | health beat

Along with a healthy diet, regular physical activity can improve joint health. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

Everyone experiences stiff and painful joints at some point. And it’s not always just a sign that you’re getting old.

Certain foods can trigger inflammatory responses that can affect joint pain, including added sugars, highly processed foods, and starches.

The good news: you can work to eliminate these problematic foods from your diet and also incorporate foods that can help your joints.

“An inflammatory diet can hurt your joints” Kristi Veltkamp, ​​RDNdietitian at Spectrum Health, said. “Ignition is like a fire – you don’t want to add fuel to the fire anymore.”

Foods to Avoid

Added sugar tops the list of foods to eliminate, along with white flour, Veltkamp said. Both are key ingredients in many processed foods, including white bread and pasta.

“Keeping sugar to a minimum is very helpful for someone who suffers from joint pain,” she said. “And try to avoid white flour altogether.”

Saturated fats, including butter, cream, coconut oil, and cream cheese, can cause inflammation. Also avoid trans fats and fried foods, as well as corn oil, soybean oil, and vegetable oil, which are used in most fast foods.

Also avoid sodium.

As for beverages, avoid sodas, lemonade, and sweetened tea, anything with a lot of added sugar.

Try green tea because it’s high in polyphenols, which help fight inflammation, Veltkamp said.

Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol.

Foods to include

Top of the list for improving joint health: fatty fish, flax seeds, chia seeds, nuts and other foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids.

Fruits and vegetables also offer benefits. Try tart cherries, as they’re especially good, Veltkamp said. You’ll find them whole, fresh or frozen, or you can try cherry juice concentrate.

Some of the best fruits for targeting inflammation are berries, blueberries, and citrus fruits, such as lemons and grapefruit.

As for vegetables, leafy greens have high anti-inflammatory properties. Try kale, spinach or arugula in your salad and load up on cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli or cauliflower.

Spices and fresh herbs are great too. This includes parsley, oregano, ginger, garlic, turmeric, and cinnamon.

Focus on healthy fats and good oils such as olive oil, olives and avocados. Certain nuts, including pecans and walnuts, are also great for taming inflammation.

Lifestyle change, supplements

Major lifestyle changes can help combat joint pain. Losing weight is one of the most powerful changes you can make.

“When you have extra weight on your body, it can put a strain on your joints,” Veltkamp said.

The ideal intensity of exercise varies from person to person. Depending on the severity of joint pain, some people may be able to exercise more than others, Veltkamp said.

Try to keep moving. A short walk is a good start, as it is relatively easy and has many benefits. Regular stretching is also helpful.

“It doesn’t have to be a high-intensity activity,” Veltkamp said. “Take it easy and keep your body moving.”

Fasting can also improve joint health. The Lifestyle medicine team at the Downtown Market in Grand Rapids regularly hosts five-day rapid sessions led by physicians.

Supplements can also help with joint pain, including glucosamine and chondroitin, though it may take several months before you see improvements, Veltkamp said.

“It’s modest, not a miracle,” she said. “But some people say it helps a bit.”

Another anti-inflammatory supplement that can help is turmeric, which Veltkamp recommends in extract form. Collagen also has some benefits, but often not for two to six months of use.

“The bottom line is that if you try to stay away from sugar, sodium and processed foods and focus on a whole plant-based diet rich in anti-inflammatories, your joints will be much happier. and healthier,” Veltkamp said.

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