A joint is the part of the body where two or more bones join together.1 One of the main functions of the joints is to allow movement of the body, so keeping them healthy is essential. Without healthy joints we are unable to easily complete daily activities such as getting out of a chair, grocery shopping or sport and physical exercise.
Joints can be movable, like shoulders, knees and hips – or rigid such as the joints in the skull.1 Joints often have cartilage at the ends of the bones where they meet. Cartilage protects bones by stopping them from rubbing together and helps them glide easily over each other, for ease of movement.1
There are numerous factors that can contribute to maintaining joint health or alternatively may be detrimental to the health of your joints. Some of these factors include:
- Family history – you may be more likely to develop joint problems if it runs in the family.2
- Ageing – long term strain on joints may wear out cartilage.2
- Previous injury – makes it more likely you may develop problems with that joint down the track.2
- Excess weight – puts more strain on joints, placing you at higher risk for developing joint concerns.2
- Constant strain and repetition on specific joints – such as constant bending or running long distances.
Symptoms of joint health are when there are no symptoms! It is only when your joints are not working as well as they should that you may experience symptoms of arthritis such as pain, swelling, stiffness, instability or limited movement of the joints. The term arthritis is often used to describe any disorder that affects the joints.1
By following some basic advice you can keep your joints healthy and help prevent future joint damage. Some tips to help prevent joint symptoms include:
- Physical activity – regular exercise will keep the muscles around the joints strong easing the burden on the joints and keeping them working well. Even if you already have symptoms of arthritis, gentle exercise will benefit you.1
- Protective clothing while exercising – it is important to protect yourself from injury. Wearing protective pads and ensuring that your shoes fit well will help prevent injury.1
- Warm up and stretch – This will help reduce the risk of injury during exercise.
- Do not “play through the pain” – take care of injuries as soon as they happen and ensure that you have fully recovered before attempting physical exercise again.1 Prompt injury management with heat and cold packs may assist.
- Avoid excess weight – even moderate weight gains can put additional burden on the joints.
- Eat a balanced diet – no specific diet will prevent or fix arthritis. However focusing on a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables will help keep you and your joints healthy. Choosing the right fats to incorporate into your diet is also important. Healthier options, known as monounsaturated fats, are obtained from nuts, seeds, avocado and olives. Omega-3 fats from krill or fish oil help to maintain joint health and mobility and may help reduce inflammation associated with mild osteoarthritis. Omega-3 can easily be obtained through the diet from fish, or you may consider supplementation. Limiting saturated fats, mainly from animals, and eliminating trans fats, mainly found in processed foods, may also be beneficial for joint health.1
A variety of nutrients and herbs may assist in the management of joint health. Some factors to consider to keep your joints healthy may include adding the following to your diet:
- Glucosamine – this may provide temporary relief from joint tenderness, pain and inflammation associated with mild osteoarthritis. It may also improve functional ability for people suffering from knee pain.
- Turmeric – Curcumin is the active component of the herb Turmeric and Turmeric has mild anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric may assist with joint function and mobility.
- Manganese – this essential mineral is necessary for the development and maintenance of healthy bones and joints. It is also required to synthesize cartilage. Good food sources of manganese include nuts, whole grains, dried fruits and green leafy vegetables.3
- Vitamin C – this vitamin is essential for collagen formation and helps maintain the integrity of connective tissue such as cartilage and joints. Good sources of vitamin C in our diet are citrus fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, potatoes and Brussel sprouts.3
- Chondroitin sulfate – this is an important building block of cartilage. It may improve joint function by increasing mobility and flexibility. It may also temporarily relieve the pain and joint swelling of mild osteoarthritis.
- MSM – Methyl sulfonyl methane is a rich source of organic sulfur which may help to improve joint function. Sulfur is a mineral which is required by every cell in the body, including cartilage, which is rich in sulfur containing compounds. It may temporarily reduce pain associated with mild osteoarthritis.
- Fish oil and krill oil – contain the healthy omega-3 fats which may temporarily reduce the inflammation associated with mild osteoarthritis.
- Green lipped mussel – may help to reduce joint stiffness and temporarily relieve joint pain associated with mild osteoarthritis. This is available in supplement form.
Frequently asked questions
What is the difference between Krill oil and Fish oil?
Krill oil contains not only contains healthy omega-3 fats but contains also Astaxanthin, a potent antioxidant.
Are there any other benefits for fish oil other than joint health?
Omega-3 not only benefits your joints but also helps to maintain healthy triglyceride levels in healthy people.