The weather is finally getting warmer, the days are longer and the outdoors are calling! It is time to bust out the golf clubs, the fishing poles, the kayak paddles, the bike gear, and those walking shoes. Getting a good dose of vitamin N, aka Nature, along with moving your body in a way you enjoy every day are two important things you can incorporate to support your overall health and well-being. But what if you are experiencing pain in your joints? Doing the activities you love, like going for a walk or getting into your garden, can become challenging if you are experiencing stiffness or pain in your hips, knees, and other joints.
Lessening the pain may be easier than you think! One thing you can control regarding pain management is the food you put on the end of your fork. Start by looking at the foods and drinks you are choosing to consume. At our sister company, Nutritional Weight & Wellness, the nutritionists and dietitians have seen many clients experience reduced pain after choosing to start eating the Weight & Wellness way, which means avoiding inflammatory foods that can lead to pain.
What Inflammatory Foods Lead to Pain?
If you guessed ultra-processed foods, such as bread, crackers, pasta, cake, and cookies – especially those containing gluten – you are correct! Give yourself a high five. Eating highly processed foods creates inflammation in the body. This inflammation can then lead to the actual physical pain that you may feel in your knees and joints. The joints are particularly vulnerable to inflammation.
Foods with gluten, damaged refined fats, and high sugar (like snacky foods such as chips, pastries, and that handful of M&M's from your coworker’s desk) can all lead to inflammation in the body. In nutrition counseling sessions, we find dairy products are a trigger for some clients, worsening their inflammation and pain. Continuing to choose to eat these types of foods over a long period of time means more and more inflammation throughout the body and ultimately more pain can occur.
If you are thinking: “This sounds like me. Maybe I would benefit from making some changes in the foods and drinks I choose to enjoy”, you may benefit from having some consultations with one of the dietitians or nutritionists at over at our sister company, Nutritional Weight and Wellness. Working with your counselor, you can experiment with avoiding specific foods (such as gluten, dairy and/or added sugar) and choosing new nutrient dense foods that are anti-inflammatory. The future you, with less joint pain and stiffness, will thank you for it!
What Anti-Inflammatory Foods Help Relieve Pain?
Just like there are foods that increase the inflammation in the body, there are also foods that help DECREASE inflammation. We’re looking for foods that are nutrient-dense with plenty of naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, antioxidants, and amino acids that nourish, protect, and give energy to our cells. Foods such as wild caught salmon, tuna, halibut, walnuts, meats from grass-fed animals, organic eggs from pastured hens, fresh vegetables, and fruits all fuel and provide the body with nutrients to reduce pain associated with inflammation. Take some time to reflect on how many of these foods you eat on a regular basis. Is your current eating plan helping to alleviate your pain or adding to it?
A fun experiment is to try the following eating plan, or variations of it depending on your energy needs, for a week or two and keep tabs on how you feel. Eating a diet consisting of anti-inflammatory foods (quality animal proteins, carbohydrates from vegetables and fruit, and healthy fats like those listed below) provides the nutrients that are critical for fueling your body and keeping pain at bay. These foods help your body build the cartilage and ligaments that support healthy joints.
Breakfast: 1 serving of a Fast Frittata plus half-cup of sweet potato.
Mid-morning snack: Half an apple with two tablespoons of peanut butter and two ounces of nitrate-free deli meat.
Lunch: 4-6 ounces of salmon in the Asian Salmon Salad Recipe, half-cup of brown rice (cooked) and at least two cups of vegetables in the salad.
Dinner: 4-6 ounces of grass-fed beef (such as a steak tenderloin or hamburger patty), half-cup of butternut squash, and two cups of green beans sautéed in two teaspoons of avocado oil.
More Support from Anti-Inflammatory Supplements
While we always emphasize food first, sometimes food choices alone are not quite enough to completely kick joint and knee pain to the curb, especially if the body has been in an inflammatory state for an extended period. For extra healing, we often recommend adding the following supplements:
Omega-3: A well-known anti-inflammatory supplement that contains essential fatty acids from cold-water fish, also helps reduce joint pain. We recommend starting 3000-4000mg daily from EPA and DHA.
Curcumin400: Curcumin is the major polyphenol and anti-inflammatory compound found in turmeric. Curcumin400 was crafted to make sure this compound is in the most bioavailable form so the body and ingest all its antioxidant properties. We recommend two softgels daily to see how you feel.
Vitamin D3 1000: This is probably our top supplement we recommend to clients. Most of us don’t get enough vitamin D from sunlight and can easily become deficient. Vitamin D supports your immune health, bones, cardiovascular function and even your mood. Depending on your current levels we often recommend 1000-5000 IU of Vitamin D3 a day.
Supplement Support for Joints For extra support for your joints specifically, these are some of the supplements we’ve found success with for our clients:
Glucosamine Chondroitin Complex with MSM: This supplement has been found to reduce inflammation and pain by supporting the growth of cartilage. We recommend a minimum dosage of 1500mg of glucosamine daily.
Kaprex: A unique supplement developed by MetagenicsTM is very effective in reducing joint pain because it stops inflammation before it starts. We recommend taking one soft gel with meals, two times per day.
Joint Revive: A supplement specifically designed to help with joint pain and joint flexibility. We recommend taking two tablets per day until you see some effects, and then reduce it to one per a day.
Key Collagen: Collagen is a crucial component of our bones, joints, ligaments, hair, skin, and nails. Our bodies produce less collagen as we age. Key Collagen offers an unflavored blend of collagen peptides and contains four patented bioactive collagen peptides including: Fortibone to support bones, Fortigel® to support joint health, Tendoforte® to promote healthy tendons and ligaments, and Verisol® to support skin and nail health. We recommend one scoop in 8 ounces of water or your favorite beverage.
While changing your food sounds simple, many people find they benefit from more guidance and support, which is why anutrition consultation is often helpful, especially if you’re looking to add in some supportive supplements, but you don’t know where to start.
However, you can also take some or all our tips above to start alleviating your pain today! Remove the potential food sources that may be causing inflammation in your body and ADD more anti-inflammatory foods onto your plate. With your doctors okay, consider adding in a supplement to help reduce your overall inflammation and a supplement that helps target healthy joints. Reach out to us if you want additional support and want a customized plan. We can help you get back to enjoying your favorite activities outdoors, in nature, all season long!
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