The secret to healthier joints – and preventing osteoarthritis, is as close as your kitchen pantry and your nearest Walmart.
This post was sponsored by OmniChannel Health Media and Walmart, but as always, all opinions are my own.
Here’s a sad fact: If your joints don’t hurt yet, it’s probably just a matter of time. I hear my friends and family complain about it and I’ve noticed myself that my knees just aren’t what they used to be. In fact, the CDC estimates that 25% of adults have full-blown arthritis, and a whole lot more of us are on our way, with cracking knees, aching shoulders, and stiff fingers.
Joint pain and osteoarthritis can actually occur to both young or old(er) individuals, when joints are injured or overused, and the cartilage is damaged, or just gradually wears away. Without adequate cartilage, bones in your joints rub against each other, causing pain, swelling, and loss of motion in the joint. Luckily, there are several things everyone can (and should) do to to promote healthier joints.
That’s right – sitting back with your feet up is not the answer! Stiff joints feel better when they’re loosened up and used. Regular exercise also builds muscles around your joints, which helps to strengthen and stabilize the joint. Finally, regular exercise counteracts weight gain, which is a major cause of joint pain and arthritis. If you have sore knees or hips, stick to lower impact exercises like walking, biking or swimming for at least 30-40 minutes most days of the week. Weight bearing exercises using free weights, resistance bands, or even your own body weight for resistance should also be done 2-3 days each week. For the best results, work with a trainer for at least a few sessions, and never push through joint pain – ask the trainer for an alternative exercise.
Fill up on Anti-inflammatory Foods
Joint pain is made worse by inflammation, and that comes from illness, overweight, and often diet. Medications certainly help to reduce inflammation, but the same can be said for your diet. First, cut back on Pro-inflammatory foods like:
- Most fast food
- Sweets and desserts,
- Omega-6 fats (found in corn and soybean oils, and used in many brands of snack foods, mayonnaise and salad dressing)
- “White” starches, such as white rice, pasta or bread
On the other hand, anti-inflammatory foods can help to reduce inflammation in your joints, as well as in places you can’t see or feel – like your blood vessels. They may not be as potent as pain killers, but they have much more far-reaching and long-term beneficial effects. Some good choices include:
- Red, orange or leafy green vegetables (tomatoes, carrots, sweet peppers, spinach, kale)
- Berries and cherries
- Nuts, especially walnuts or seeds
- Olive oil
- Spices, especially turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, garlic
- Green tea
Try to follow Dr. Andrew Weil’s Anti-inflammatory Food Pyramid and work several of these foods or ingredients into your diet every day.
Use the right supplements
Certain supplements can promote healthier joints by reducing inflammation, or repairing damaged cartilage.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are probably the two most familiar joint supplements, and with good reason – research confirms they’re helpful in reducing joint pain in those with moderate to severe knee pain, AND they can prevent joint damage due to osteoarthritis.
Cosamin DS, available at Walmart, is a supplement that contains a trademarked glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate combination. I especially like the fact that it’s the most researched brand, based on published studies in peer-reviewed journals and it’s tested for purity, quality and meeting label claim by industry respected, independent testing laboratories.