What is just 3mm and protects your joints?

Published September 1, 2017

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knee joint
Cartilage is the firm, rubbery lining between our bones which helps to cushion our knees and other joints and prevents the bones from grinding against one another. This vital protective layer allows our body to move with ease and comfort, absorbing the shock of continuous movement and pressure caused by everyday activities such as walking or climbing stairs.1
Cartilage is essential to healthy joint function and works together with our ligaments, tendons and synovial fluid to produce smooth, painless movements.2 If your cartilage becomes worn down, it can lead to joint pain, inflammation and loss of movement – which is why it’s so important to look after your joint health.

What is cartilage made of?

The cartilage in most joints is around 3mm thick – and yet it possesses incredible elasticity, resistance and strength. It’s largely made up of four essential components:

● Collagen: the main protein found in cartilage, collagen comprises more than half of its makeup and is what gives cartilage its strength and flexibility.3
● Proteoglycans: these are chains of proteins which act like a rope, helping provide resilience and retaining water to help lubricate the joint.
● Glucosamine: the role of glucosamine is to stimulate the production of proteoglycans. It’s known as one of the building blocks of cartilage.4
● Water: the presence of water serves to lubricate the joint and transport nutrients to the body’s cartilage-producing cells, known as chondrocytes.3

How is cartilage broken down?

In healthy, younger individuals, cartilage is constantly renewing and regenerating itself; as older cartilage breaks down and degrades, it is gradually replaced by new components in order to maintain a constant level of cartilage in the body. However, because it contains no blood vessels or nerves, it grows and renews much more slowly than other types of body tissue and, over time, needs to be protected from wear and tear.3

What’s more, our body’s ability to renew and repair cartilage deteriorates with age. Exercise and movements we used to perform with ease can begin to feel painful or uncomfortable, and our body may take longer to recover. But while we can’t reverse the clock, there are plenty of things we can do to help maintain the health of our joints. These include:

● Maintaining a healthy weight. Carrying excess weight can put undue pressure on your joints – your knee joints in particular – and cause cartilage to deteriorate more rapidly.
● Regular participation in gentle, low-impact exercise. Physical activity helps to strengthen the muscles that support your joints, keeping them supple and flexible.
● Eating a balanced diet. A nutritious diet is the key to staying within a healthy weight range, minimising pressure on your joints and ensuring you stay mobile and active well into old age.
● Consider supplementation: Supplements containing substances like glucosamine and chondroitin may be beneficial in relieving joint pain associated with mild ostearthritis.4

Read more about how to support your joints through diet and exercise and find out more about Nature’s Own’s joint support range.

1 National Institute of Health (NIH). Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disorders. What is osteoarthritis? Fast Facts: An easy-to-read series of publications for the public. https://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/osteoarthritis/osteoarthritis_ff.asp
2 https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/joints
3 Fox AJ, Bedi A, Rodeo S. The basic science of articular cartilage: structure, composition and function. Sports Health 2009; 1(5): 461-468
4 Braun L, Cohen M; Herbs & Natural Supplements: An evidence based guide, 4th Edition vol. 2; Elsevier; Australia; 2015; pp 471-480

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