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How to Keep Your Joints Healthy: Six-Step Guide

16/06/2016 16:48 | Updated 16 June 2016

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Imagine yourself not being able to walk or cycle? Unable to be active, doing things that you love? I am not talking about disability here. I am talking about injury and joint problems. It happens. All the time. Don't wait for this to happen to you. Do everything you can to keep your joints healthy today and keep in mind that healthy joints are keeping you active. They are vital to your health so don't you think you should give them more attention?

My story

I've been there. Unable to walk properly and cycle. The knee injury left me frustrated and sad but I didn't give up. I continued with my rehab exercises until things got better (it was a long recovery). I can now walk and cycle ok but my knees are not what they used to be (I still get knee pain sometimes).

It's really important that you try and keep your joints healthy so you can stay active and do the things you want, independently, for as long as you can. Here are my top tips on what you can do:

1. Prevent injury

This is the most important thing you can do. If you can prevent injury you are ahead of the game. I wrote the whole article on this topic before so do check it out and read all the tips on how to prevent sports and exercise injuries.

2. Be active

Exercise can give us injuries and pains but at the same time it's vital to be active to keep your joints healthy. Inactivity creates weak muscles which result in joints taking more strain and becoming more susceptible to damage. That's why I am always active. I need to keep muscles around my knees strong so that they can support my knees better and keep the kneecaps aligned. Strong muscles are helping me be pain-free most of the time.

3. Maintain a healthy weight

Being overweight puts extra strain on your joints and this increases your risk of developing osteoarthritis (the most common joint disorder, which is due to wear and tear on a joint). If you are overweight try to lose some weight. According to Liquid Health shedding 11 pounds cuts your chances of developing osteoarthritis of the knee by 50%.

4. Eat healthy, well-balanced diet

Make sure your diet contains enough fruits and vegetables and choose whole grains where possible. Aim for two portions of omega-3 rich fish every week - research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation in joints and may help lower risk of arthritis (1). Also include beans and pulses in your diet as these are a great source of protein which helps body repair itself.

Don't overdo on sugar as it causes inflammation in your body and can contribute to joint pain (2).

Following a healthy, well-balanced diet is good for your whole body, including your joints. Like this you will ensure your body gets a variety of nutrients which will help keep your joints healthy.

5. Focus on foods promoting healthy joints

Certain foods contain more nutrients promoting joint health than others. To keep your joints healthy include more of the following in your diet:

  • Antioxidant-rich foods (help body fight free radicals which could be damaging to joints): - fruits such as grapefruit, papaya and oranges for vitamin C - foods high in vitamin E: avocado, sunflower seeds, peanut butter - selenium-rich foods: brazil nuts, oats, brown rice
  • Omega-3s: salmon, sardines, flaxseed oil, walnuts
  • Calcium-rich foods: sesame seeds (tahini), sardines, pulses, dried figs, kale, almonds

If you or somebody that you know already suffer from osteoarthritis check this article for more information on which foods may help.

6. Supplements for healthy joints

We all know that sometimes it's difficult to maintain healthy and well-balanced diet. Adding more health foods to support joint health may also not be all that easy and in this case it's good to supplement.

Here are some of the most common supplements which people use today to help them keep their joints healthy and pain-free:

Omega 3 oils

Omega 3s are essential fatty acids which your body cannot make. If you don't eat fish and other foods rich in omega 3s you are not getting enough of omega 3s so you should supplement. You can either go for good quality fish oil or vegetarian omega 3 oils such as flaxseed oil.

When you are very active and you've been over-exercising omega 3s will help decrease inflammation in your joints and reduce the pain (4).

Collagen

Cartilage and bones are made up of proteins such as collagen and elastin. Collagen is an essential 'ingredient' of a joint cartilage as it helps to repair and prevent the deterioration of the joint. Some studies have shown that supplementing with it for joint pain and arthritis is beneficial (5).

Glucosamine

Glucosamine is naturally produced in the body and plays a key role in building cartilage. Over time, the body decreases production of glucosamine and it's thought that by supplementing this can be rectified. Some studies have shown positive effects of supplementing with glucosamine but some haven't shown any positive results (6).

Chondroitin

Chondroitin is a major component of cartilage and it occurs naturally in the body. As a supplement it's commonly taken together with glucosamine as it's believed that this combination is more effective at providing pain relief (7).

MSM

MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is an organic compound containing sulphur which helps to lower inflammation and restore healthy bodily tissue (8). It's an important 'building block' for healthy bones and joints. There is an evidence that MSM may have a moderate effect in improving joint pain and swelling as well as general functional wellbeing in people with osteoarthritis (9). When combined with glucosamine this effect may be greater.

These are just some of the supplements which may help keep your joints healthy and improve joint pain. There are also other supplements to be considered, just take a look at this page.

If you are concerned about your joints and want to learn more about how to look after them visit Liquid Health website.

References:
(1) http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/omega3-fatty-acids
(2) http://edition.cnn.com/2012/07/20/health/food-cause-pain-daniluk/
(3) http://www.naturemade.com/resource-center/articles-and-videos/joint-and-bone-health/food-and-nutrients-that-fuel-joint-health
(4) http://www.livestrong.com/article/196936-do-fish-oil-tablets-lubricate-the-joints/
(5) http://www.arthritisresearchuk.org/arthritis-information/complementary-and-alternative-medicines/cam-report/complementary-medicines-for-rheumatoid-arthritis/collagen/trials-for-oa.aspx
(6) http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/glucosamine
(7) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clinical_trials_on_glucosamine_and_chondroitin
(8) http://draxe.com/msm-supplement/
(9) http://www.arthritisresearchuk.org/arthritis-information/complementary-and-alternative-medicines/cam-report/complementary-medicines-for-osteoarthritis/msm.aspx
(10) http://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/why-weight-matters-when-it-comes-to-joint-pain
(11) http://www.lqliquidhealth.com/5-supplements-linked-to-arthritis-alleviation-prevention/

*This post has been written in collaboration with Liquid Health and originally published on Be Healthy Now website

Petra Kravos is a healthy living blogger passionate about healthy eating, nutrition, cancer prevention and natural beauty. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Bloglovin.

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