Maybe you’re closer to 55 than 45. Or maybe you’re on the other side of 55. Or maybe you’re neither of those things, but for whatever reason, your knees and ankles ache after a simple walk or light workout. What can you do about it?
Examine and modify your diet. Joint pain is often a symptom of chronic inflammation, which can be exacerbated by eating certain foods. Conversely, it can also be alleviated by eating certain foods — or, more specifically, the vitamins and minerals in those foods. The idea is this: Different compounds in the body cause inflammation (which exacerbates joint pain) and some reduce inflammation (sometimes by inhibiting the production of inflammatory compounds).
You want to eat foods that help produce eicosanoids in the body, as those inhibit inflammatory proteins. Omega-3 fats (found in fatty fish or eggs) are one of the best options. In addition, vitamin C can help strengthen the cartilage (and reduce joint pain), while antioxidants can also play a role in alleviating joint pain.
Eating a well-balanced, colorful, plant-forward diet that’s not over-reliant on processed foods or added sugar isn’t just good for your overall health, it can have a positive effect on reducing inflammation in the body.
Here are a few specific foods to seek out:
Tart cherries contain a powerful anti-inflammatory component called anthocyanin, which is responsible for giving cherries their deep red color. It is also believed to be the main reason tart cherries are so helpful when it comes to joint and muscle recovery post workout.
Green tea has antioxidants (polyphenols) known to reduce inflammation and slow cartilage deterioration. These polyphenols have been associated with the ability to decrease joint pain in individuals with rheumatoid arthritis. This is believed to be a result of an additional antioxidant known as epigallocatechin-3-gallate which hinders the production of molecules that cause joint pain. While not all antioxidants are created equally, there appears to be some connection between foods that have them and lower inflammation.
Pineapples and pineapple juice have bromelain, which contains an anti-inflammatory enzyme that can help reduce joint swelling.
Staying hydrated is important. Water moisturizes and gives structural support to the joints.
The bottomline? Stay active, stay hydrated, manage your weight and consume a nutrient-rich diet rich in whole foods.