As we grow older, our joints begin to break down. The cartilage and connective tissue in our joints weaken; in some cases, inflammation can set in, leading to arthritic conditions such as osteoarthritis. However, certain antioxidant-rich foods can help to reduce inflammation and strengthen our joints as well as provide other health benefits. Raw foods such as carrots and apples contain high levels of vitamins A and C. Both of these vitamins improve the cell renewal process and boost the body's resistance to disease.
Eating the right foods for joint health is very important because our body depends on good nutrition to keep us healthy. Without the proper nutrients from food, free radical damage can set in, resulting in poor health, fatigue and inflammation. Free radicals are unpaired molecules that can cause a great deal of damage in the body because they constantly are searching for a pair to bond to. This process weakens other cells and tissues in the body. Vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other nutrients help neutralize free radical damage.
The right foods will help to ease the pain and discomfort brought on by inflammation. When joints are healthy, people enjoy a wide range of benefits, such as more mobility and less pain. A person with healthy joints also is more flexible and better able to keep up with the demands of daily living. Mobility becomes increasingly important as we age because people in general want the freedom and independence to do things on their own without a struggle.
Specific Foods for Joint Health
Include foods in your diet that have a high vitamin and mineral content. Raw foods have a higher concentration of nutrients because cooking food kills enzymes and other vitamins. Some of the best foods for joint health include oranges, carrots, apples, asparagus, pineapple, dark leafy greens, avocados, red peppers, peaches, strawberries and other nutrient-rich green vegetables.
Omega-3 fatty acids also are very helpful for joint health. These foods lubricate the joints and reduce inflammation in the body. Foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids include sunflower seeds, salmon, cod, flaxseeds, eggs, almonds and other nuts.
It takes time to notice the effects of better nutrition on joint health. If you eat a variety of raw foods along with healthy fats and oils, you will begin to notice less pain within one month of consistent healthy eating. Healthy fats are the most important component, so be sure to include some type of healthy fat in your diet daily. You can eat healthy foods in addition to taking fish or flaxseed oil supplements.
Dr. Linda Page is a naturopathic doctor and author of several books such as "Healthy Healing" and "Detoxification." She recommends including plenty of green juices and sea vegetables in your diet to reduce inflammation and improve joint health. Green juices include kale, spinach, celery, cucumber and other greens that are very good for the body. Sea vegetables like chlorella and spirulina can be found at your local health food store.