Could Lifestyle Be the Cause of Your Joint Pain?
Updated: Apr 26
Whether it's sport related, injury, old age, or from your genes joint pain will affect everyone at some point in their lifetime. Now what if I told you that your lifestyle could either prevent or reduce signs and symptoms of your joint pain? Luckily for us there are multiple ways of reducing inflammation of the joints from lifestyle changes. Let's dive into 4 ways to prevent joint pain.
1. Dietary Patterns
The anti-inflammatory diet is a diet that is used to help treat inflammation in the body to help increase the healing process. This diet may also be used to treat joint pain and/or arthritis. The diet resembles the Mediterranean diet in many ways by aiming for the inclusion of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins (chicken, fish, legumes, and nuts), healthy fats, fiber, and a decrease in sugar and processed foods. The foods found in the anti-inflammatory diet increase the dietary intake of important vitamins and minerals, fats, and fiber that help decrease inflammation throughout the body.
Elimination diets have also been used to decrease joint point in people with arthritis. This diet works by eliminating specific foods that may cause inflammatory symptoms. Foods that are usually eliminated in this diet are gluten, animal products, and nightshade plants (eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers).
2. Helpful Foods
Instead of following a specific diet, you could incorporate foods that help decrease inflammation more frequently into the diet. Here are some anti-inflammatory foods to include regularly:
Healthy fats, such as unsaturated fats and omega-3’s, have been shown to decrease signs and symptoms of joint pain. Sources of healthy fats are olive oil, fish, avocados, nuts and seeds.
Each color of vegetables and fruits contains different levels of important vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that the body needs to function and reduce inflammation. It is important to consume all the colors of the rainbow throughout the day in fruits and vegetables to receive adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals that your body needs.
Consuming adequate amounts of water to stay hydrated is important to remove waste from the body and lubricate the joints, which reduces pain and inflammation.
Regular movement, unless currently injured, is key for reducing and preventing joint pain.
Exercising with proper form can increase muscle tone, strength, flexibility, and protect your joints. Studies have shown that muscle-strengthening, non-weight bearing aerobic, and low impact exercises are effective in reducing pain and disability caused by joint pain.
Practicing yoga can also be helpful. Yoga can improve flexibility and flexible muscles and cartilage better protect joints and prevent injury. Additionally, the practice of yoga calls for full range of motion from the joints. This helps to provide fluid and nutrients to those neglected areas of cartilage, preventing degeneration or wearing out.
In order to reduce the risk of developing lifelong joint pain when you are older, it is important to take preventative measures.
Preventing excessive weight gain is important in reducing added pressure on your joints that can contribute to joint pain and/or arthritis in your lower extremities. Excessive fat in the body also causes an increased presence of pro-inflammatory responses within the body.
The reduction of pro-inflammatory foods will help reduce the amount of inflammation in the body that contributes to joint pain. Foods to limit are processed meats, sugar, fried foods, fast foods, and soft drinks. These foods can cause inflammation when consumed in excessive amounts.
Diet and exercise are important preventative measures for joint pain and should be implemented in a daily routine to reduce joint pain and benefit your body. However, because of the availability and great taste of pro-inflammatory foods it may be very difficult to make healthy dietary changes. Therefore it is important to consume these foods in moderation or on a less frequent basis.
Written by: Stephen Kronlage, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern