Millions of Americans suffer from joint pain due to arthritis or other conditions. While there are medical treatments that can help relieve pain and restore mobility, most of us would like to do all we can to prevent joint problems on our own. That’s where dietary changes come into play.
As a top orthopedic specialist and sports medicine physician in Houston, Texas, Joshua D. Harris, MD, works with each patient individually to develop joint pain solutions to relieve pain and improve overall joint health. In this post, he reviews the critical link between your diet and how making the right food choices can help keep many joint problems at bay.
How your eating habits affect your joints
“You are what you eat.” It’s a saying that we hear so much it stops being meaningful. But your diet significantly impacts every aspect of your health, including your joint function.
The most obvious link between diet and joint health has to do with weight management. Your knees, hips, spine, and joints in your feet are all charged with supporting your weight day in and day out.
Not surprisingly, the more you weigh, the more stress and strain you place on your joints, which means the potential for joint damage increases, too. Making healthy diet choices also helps you keep your weight in check, especially as you get older. That means substituting unhealthy foods with healthy choices and watching your portion control.
For optimal joint health, you must fill your plate with antioxidants-rich foods. That includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, particularly those with deep colors, like most berries, red peppers, carrots, sweet potatoes, leafy greens, and citrus fruits.
Antioxidants help ward off free radicals, unstable molecules that interfere with normal cell function. Plus, most antioxidant-rich foods are rich in fiber, too, which means you’ll feel full longer, making it easier to maintain a healthy weight.
Lean protein and low-fat dairy are good for bone and muscle health, so your joints get the support they need for normal movement. Plus, vitamin D helps fight inflammatory damage, a significant cause of joint discomfort.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also good for preventing inflammation in your joints and elsewhere, including your heart. Fatty fish are a great source or take fish oil tablets. Other sources include flax and chia seeds, soybeans, and walnuts.
While some foods are good for joint health, others could contribute to joint damage, especially if eaten in quantity. High on the list: are foods that promote inflammation.
For healthy joints, avoiding processed and fatty fast foods is essential. Skip the refined carbs and red meat, too. Avoid unhealthy trans fats and limit saturated fats. And, of course, avoid sugary foods as much as possible since sugar significantly contributes to inflammation.
Since most of these foods can also contribute to weight gain, avoiding them also helps you keep extra pounds at bay.
Take joint pain seriously
Joint pain is more common as we age, but the good news is it’s never too late to adopt eating habits that can help your joints and overall health, too. To learn what else you can do to keep your joints healthy, call 713-441-8393 or book an appointment online with Dr. Joshua Harris today.