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4 Nutrition Tips for Strong & Healthy Joints

How do you keep your joints healthy?

When you have joint pain, what do you reach for first: the ibuprofen or the broccoli?

It sounds laughable, doesn’t it? You may be surprised to learn that current research is emphasizing the role that certain foods play in keeping your joints pain-free and fully functioning. Of course, broccoli won’t replace your painkillers, but a healthy diet filled with the foods below could reduce joint inflammation and cartilage damage.

Grab your grocery list and keep reading to learn about the four foods you should pick up this week.

#1 | Cold-Water Fish

You’ve probably heard of omega-3 fatty acids. It’s a popular buzzword when it comes to diet and nutrition, and for good reason! Two types of omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, help reduce inflammation in joints. They lower the risk of some diseases and improve brain function, too.

Eating cold-water fish is a great way to bolster your diet with omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon, tuna, herring, and mackerel have the highest levels of EPA and DHA. Salmon and mackerel are also incredibly high in Vitamin D. This powerhouse vitamin helps your body absorb calcium, which is an essential process for healthy bones.

It doesn’t take much fish to make a difference in your joint health. Experts say you should aim for two servings of cold-water fish per week.

#2 | Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Your choice of oils could have a big impact on the health of your joints. Some vegetable oils are made using chemicals and contain high levels of omega-6 fatty acids. This “omega” is different from omega-3. Some studies even show that it may worsen pain and inflammation.

One fact that may explain the dangers of omega-6 is that most Americans eat way too many omega-6 fats and not enough omega-3 fats. Doctors recommend eating a 1:1 ratio of the two, but for some, the ratio is 25:1—way out of proportion!

One way to get your omega-6 intake under control is to swap out your traditional cooking oil for extra-virgin olive oil. This type of oil isn’t made with chemicals. Instead, it’s mechanically pressed from ripe olives.

The oil is also high in polyphenols, which act as antioxidants in the body and have anti-inflammatory effects. Some research has also shown that it can prevent the breakdown of calcium and promote bone formation—a win-win for healthy joints!

#3 | Broccoli

Eating your greens is an important part of keeping your joints in good shape. Broccoli, in particular, contains several vital nutrients.

One is sulforaphane. This compound benefits the body in multiple ways. It’s an antioxidant, it works to protect your DNA, and it helps to prevent cancer. Plus, sulforaphane calms inflammation in the body. Researchers have found that it can even slow down cartilage loss.

Calcium is the other key nutrient in broccoli. Just one cup of cooked broccoli has 60 mg of calcium—nearly 10% of the daily recommended intake.

#4 | Garlic

This humble food from the allium family may give you bad breath, but it may also work wonders for your joints. One study showed that garlic supplements reduced knee pain and joint inflammation. Other studies showed that a particular compound in garlic, diallyl disulphine, can stop certain enzymes in the body that break down cartilage.

The allium family has two other great foods for joint health—onions and leeks. Both of these foods contain quercetin, which acts as an anti-inflammatory compound in the body.

If you’re suffering from joint pain, make an appointment to see Dr. Hill. He accepts nearly all types of insurance and would be pleased to create a unique treatment plan to address your joint pain.

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