There's no way around it, healthy joints are essential for keeping our body moving without pain, stiffness, fractures or worse. Instead of taking your healthy joints for granted until you get a locked knee, a bone fracture or a case of tennis elbow, employ some preventative nutrition measures and you'll be dancing your way into your golden years.
Avoid sugars and processed foods
Kim Watson, a personal trainer and health coach in Melbourne, says a lot of joint problems are linked to inflammation, which can be alleviated by eliminating processed foods and sugar.
Just as sugar and processed foods can trigger inflammation, some research shows that the mineral magnesium can soothe inflammatory conditions such as osteoarthritis. Magnesium deficiency is a common cause of irritability, muscle spasms and mood swings so add some magnesium rich foods such as flaxseeds, sunflower, pumpkin seeds and almonds to your daily diet.
Some interesting research has come out about the link between Vitamin D deficiency and degenerative conditions affecting the joints. Vitamin D is made by your body naturally when exposed to bright UVB sunlight. Egg yolks, shitake mushrooms, salmon and mackerel are other useful sources, but you may need a supplement, particularly in the winter months.
Emma Sutherland, a Sydney Naturopath and health coach, agrees with Watson that we should try to get our vitamins from real foods as much as possible.
"One of the best things I can suggest for joint issues is bone broth. All the minerals are optimal ratios so they're actually really easy for the body to absorb. I make up a bone broth and use that instead of stock in my soups and casseroles."
Sutherland says organic beef bones are preferable "because you get the really healthy collagen in the middle of the bone", simply add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and simmer it gently.
"You've got to remember that minerals are harder to absorb than vitamins. They need to come in an easily absorbable form", she says.
Spice it up
Sutherland says there's some really exciting clinical research coming out on curcumin, the extract from the spice turmeric, showing it is as effective as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in treating pain and inflammation.
Inflammation has been linked to many preventable diseases such as cancer.
"Add turmeric to as much as you can in India, where it's used in curries, they have the lowest rate of stomach cancer in the world. You can also get a naturopath-prescribed capsule to up your intake."
Alpha and Omega
Numerous research studies link a diet high in Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs), particularly those contained in cold water fish such as mackerel, tuna, sardines and salmon, with fewer incidences of inflammatory diseases. One of numerous studies showed that participants who supplemented their diets with fish oil capsules greatly reduced their symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
Whether you want to add a can of tuna to your daily diet or up your dose with a capsule, add some good fats to your diet for less pain and more mobility.