Healthy diet plan is key to joint pain relief, here’s what you should choose to eat or ditch
Joint pain is a common condition that is triggered by obesity. Weight gain can cause your joints to bear excess load, which can cause inflammation and pain. There are various reasons of pain, from simple sprain to strain, osteoporosis (poor bone formation), osteoarthritis (break down of bone), bursitis (inflammation of joint), gout (pain due to excess of uric acid) fibromalagia (several muscle points pain).
“Joint pain is more often than not due to inflammation. While the cause of inflammation can be varied, it can be controlled by monitoring your diet,” says Delnaaz Chanduwadia, chief dietician, Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre.
Some of the other causes of joint pain include gout (an increase in uric acid which causes it to crystalise at the joints causing inflammation, redness and pain), sprains, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis (poor bone formation), osteoarthritis (break down of bone), bursitis (inflammation of joint), and fibromalagia. People suffering from food allergies also tend to get joint pain when they consume foods that they are intolerant to.
Eating a diet that includes inflammation causing foods can also trigger joint pain. “A lack of antioxidants in the diet, increased intake of high saturated fat or transfats, sugar or Omega 6 rich oils, and consuming foods rich in maida (white flour) can lead to inflamed joints. Unhealthy fats cause an increase in adipose tissue and increases inflammation,” says Chanduwadia.
Avoid consuming caffeine or eating green leafy vegetables (palak, methi, amaranth) along with calcium-rich food (milk and milk products) as it hinders calcium absorption. “Eating meat and chicken should be restricted in case of gout as it increases uric acid formation. Also reduce the amount of salt and refined foods that you consume,” says Pooja Thacker, senior dietician, Bhatia Hospital, Mumbai.
In such cases, switching to a Mediterranean diet can offer relief, as the diet is rich in whole grains and legumes along with unsaturated fats and a substantial portion of fish. “The Indian diet is loaded with sources of Omega 6 which causes an imbalance of Omega 3, 6and 9. It is important to increase the consumption of fish oil, which is the richest source of Omega 3,” says Chanduwadia.
Eat foods that are rich in calcium, protein, vitamin D, magnesium, zinc, iron,B6 and B12, which can help in the formation of good bone. “Obesity is a major concern for joint pain as the entire body weight is on the knee, ankle and leg. So, maintaining an ideal body weight is important,” says Thacker.
Doing weight-bearing exercises three times a week can strengthen the bones and soft tissue and build muscle, which can prevent the condition from happening. However, if you are in pain, limit the exercise. “Swimming is an activity that offers the least resistance to the joints and is a good option. You can also walk in the water. Exercises to strengthen the knee, tendons and ligaments around the knee are of utmost importance. Keep the joints agile as a lack of activity can also stiffen joints and cause degeneration,” says Chanduwadia.
Thacker advises patients in pain to opt for range-of-motion exercises be it cycling, aqua exercises or elliptical training. “In this way, less weight is put on the body during exercise,” says Thacker.
Here are some of the best foods to include in your diet:
Fish oil: The best natural sources of fish oil include wild salmon, trout and sardines, while vegetarians can opt for flax seed, chia seeds and organic soybeans. “A 2008 Australian study shows how fish oil reduces joint pain and boosts cardiovascular health. Just one serving of cold-water fish twice a week is enough. You can also take a high-quality fish oil supplement,” says Chanduwadia.
Antioxidant-rich foods: Add some colour to your diet and include colourful fruits and vegetables. “They are loaded with pigments that work as antioxidants and reduce free radical damage, which brings down the inflammation,” says Chanduwadia.
Cruciferous vegetables: Vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage contain the Sulphoraphane compound. “It reduces joint pain and inflammation as it blocks the enzyme causing inflammation,” says Chanduwadia. Such vegetables are also rich in Vitamin K which helps in collagen formation, and blood clotting along with calcium, says Thacker.
Herbs and spices: Make sure you include medicinal herbs and spices to your meals. Ginger, turmeric and cinnamon are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, says Chanduwadia.
Garlic: The compound diallyl disulphine found in garlic may limit cartilage-damaging enzymes in human cells, says Chanduwadia.
Nuts: Brown rice, fibrous food, the skin of potatoes and nuts contain magnesium, which helps in bone mineralisation.
Prunes and apricots: These fruits are loaded with silicon which helps in the skeletal development, says Thacker.
Oranges and sweet lime: These fruits contain inistol, a carbohydrate that helps in calcium approbation. They are also rich in Vitamin C which helps in calcium absorption.
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