Anti-Aging Foods for Joints
Aging takes a toll on our bodies, especially our weight-bearing joints— such as hips and knees. Pain in the knees is often the first sign of degenerative joint disease in an individual. While we can’t stop the clock, we can choose foods to enhance our health that are both nutrient dense and low in calories.
There are no known foods to slow down or reverse the body’s natural changes associated with aging. However, eating a wide variety of healthy foods, especially those packed with antioxidant and nutrients important to tissue repair and healing, is the best way to stay healthy and slow down the aging process.
Inflammation in Joint Disease
In addition to normal aging and its effects on joints, the role of inflammation in degenerative joint disease is being studied intensely. Our understanding of chronic, diffuse inflammation and its role in disease and aging is growing rapidly. This creates exciting new possibilities for staying healthier and more functional in the later years of life.
Although no single food cures disease (that we know of), some foods are denser than others in the nutrients necessary for tissue maintenance and repair. In addition, some foods are richer than others in antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances that prevent or delay some types of cell damage. Vegetables and fruits are rich in antioxidants and there is strong evidence that eating lots of fruits and vegetables has health benefits. Some antioxidants include beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, selenium, and vitamins A, C, and E.
However, high doses of antioxidants may be linked to health risks. High doses of beta-carotene may increase the risk for lung cancer in smokers and high doses of vitamin E can increase risks for prostate cancer and stroke.
Be sure to discuss the use of antioxidants and any dietary supplements with your physician before using them.
- Berries: Strawberries, raspberries, cranberries and blueberries have an abundance of antioxidants. In particular, anthocyanin is found in berries and is also a good source of vitamin C which helps repair damaged tissue, and has been linked to skin cancer prevention.
- Dark chocolate: This is one food almost everyone loves. Cocoa beans have more antioxidant action than any other food.
- Beans: Overall, beans are an excellent source of low-fat protein, fiber and antioxidants, especially soy and kidney beans.
- Oats: Oats and other whole grains have less inflammatory effect than refined grains, such as white flour.
- Walnuts: While walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory action, it is also high in calories.
- Salmon: Salmon canned with the bones is rich in both calcium and vitamin D which are both essential to bone strength. It has omega-3 fatty acids which have an anti-inflammatory effect. Trout and sardines are also high in omega-3 fatty acids. Speak to your physician before taking fish oil supplements.
- Red Peppers: These vegetables have a lot of Vitamin C which is essential for the synthesis of collagen, the most important substance in cartilage, tendons and ligaments. Citrus fruits are also high in vitamin C.
- Kale: Kale and other dark green leafy vegetables, including Broccoli, are rich in the antioxidants beta-carotene and vitamin C.
No research has identified foods, alone or in combination, that are superior to others in preserving youthful joints. However, eating a wide variety of foods, particularly fruits and vegetables, taking regular exercise, and practicing good health habits in general, may help keeping you and your joints flexible and younger longer.
- University of Maryland Medical Center; http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmeds/supplement/vit-c-ascorbic-acid
- American Heart Association; http://www.heart.org
- United States Department of Agriculture; http://www.usda.gov
- United States Food and Drug Administration; http://www.fda.gov
- Antioxidants: In Depth; National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health; https://nccih.nih.gov/health/antioxidants/introduction.htm
- Flexable Health