Friday, September 3, 2010

Healthy foods for healthy joints

I recently ran across another set of guidelines for a diet that seems to be very joint friendly - appealing to those of us prone to arthritis, inflammation, and swelling. The article, entitled "The 20 Best and Worst Foods for Joint Health", was provided by Penny Thomas, physical therapist for over 20 years and webmaster of the site How to Become a Physical Therapist. Feel free to browse the entire article here - I've just cut and pasted a few of her top picks (and bottom of the barrel picks) for foods that could help (or hinder) arthritis pain and swelling. As always - I'm not a doctor, nutritionist, or the like - so please consult a professional before diving into the foods below. And of course, other allergies, drug interactions, and your own personal dietary needs should be considered.
Enjoy!

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1. Shrimp : Its shells contain high levels of glucosamine, a known vitamin to help combat inflammation of the joints.

2. Salmon : A regular of “top foods” list, salmon is an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids that have benefits for weight, heart health, and of course, joints.

3. Almonds : Almonds are also high in the omega 3 fatty acids found in salmon. They also have loads of vitamin E and manganese. Adding manganese into your diet will help the glucosamine in your body, as well as speed up and increase its productivity.

4. Pineapples : Containing an element called bromelain, it has remarkable healing properties. According to Boulder Natural Labs, bromelain and its ability as an anti-inflammatory is superior to that of a comparable drug.

5. Extra Virgin Olive Oil : Because extra virgin olive oil is derived from the first pressing of olives, it has the most antioxidant benefits. These work to extract the free radicals in your body that can lead to inflammation and joint pain.

6. Bell Peppers : All peppers are rich in vitamins A, C, and K, but red peppers are the best choice, included for naturally fighting joint pain. Antioxidant in peppers help to prevent cell damage, cancer, and diseases related to aging, and they also reduce inflammation like that found in arthritis and asthma.

(Note - I always thought bell peppers were night-shade vegetables, which I've tended to avoid - but I'm finding conflicting information online. Some sites say they are, others say they aren't - so this one may require a little personal trial and error.)

7. Avocado : Good news for everyone who loves guacamole: it can help you joint health. In fact, it has been referred to as “the most nutritious of all the fruit.” It provides about twice as high a proportion of the daily needs for antioxidant vitamins as its calorie proportion.

8. Turmeric : Orange in color and often used in Indian cooking, it is long known for its anti-inflammatory properties. The site Health Diaries has 19 other reasons to add turmeric to your diet, in addition to fighting off arthritis.

9. Ginger : Denmark researchers have discovered that ginger can block the effects of prostaglandins. These are substances that cause inflammation of the blood vessels in the brain, which leads to migraines. Just a half teaspoon of ginger in your tea can lead to marked relief in arthritis pain.

Worst Foods for Joint Health

1. Red Meat : According to British researchers, eating a diet high in red meats could actually lead to rheumatoid arthritis. The study linked the amount of protein taken in with higher risk.

2. Dairy : In an entry from PCRM Health, they tell the story of a woman who was completely cured of arthritis after eliminating dairy products from her diet. With the theory that it has similar properties to the above, the protein found in dairy may have been the cause of her joint pain. If you suspect dairy may be causing your arthritis pain, try cutting it out of your diet or substituting for soy milk and other alternatives to dairy.

3. Saturated Fat : Because this is a main source of weight gain and has inflammatory properties, saturated fat can be a bad choice for those with joint pain. Butter, cheese, fatty meats, and more all contain high levels.

4. Trans Fats : According to The Examiner, trans fats are linked to belly fat, ADHD, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis. These fats are commonly known as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils and can be found by reading the nutrition label.

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