Osteoarthritis is the main cause of joint pain in older people. (1) To age well, taking care of your joints is super important. Having healthy joints can help you avoid lots of pain and discomfort that is so common among older people.
Diet is one of the easiest ways you can take steps today to prevent osteoarthritis and other joint problems in your future. There are a ton of foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals that work to prevent the breakdown of cartilage and protect your joints.
Adding these five foods to your diet can help keep your joints happy and prevent the progression of osteoarthritis. And, these five foods are delicious additions that are easy to incorporate into your snacks and meals.
Red peppers are part of the nightshade family of vegetables. These vegetables are filled with nutrients, and are especially great for joint pain. They are packed with solanine – a chemical that can reduce arthritis pain and inflammation. (4)
But that’s not all. Peppers also have plant pigments called carotenoids (which make them that bright red color). Certain types of these carotenoids – like beta-cryptoxanthin – can reduce the risk of developing inflammatory conditions like arthritis.
Peppers are also full of a vitamin C – something we all need more of in our diet. The vitamin C in peppers improves bone health and protects cartilage. Getting the right daily amount of vitamin C in your diet is easy – just half a cup of red bell peppers a day will get you all the vitamin C you need. (4)
One large European study showed that increasing your intake of beta-cryptoxanthin and vitamin C just a little bit – “equivalent to one glass of freshly squeezed orange juice per day” – can reduce your risk of developing inflammatory disorders. (5)
Red peppers combine well with eggs in a breakfast omelet in the morning. Roasted red peppers also make a great side, you can bake them with chicken or potatoes and sprinkle spices on top and voila – delicious!
Osteoarthritis affects over 32.5 million adults in the US. (1) Compared to other countries, the condition is much more common in the US. One research project that studied movement habits, sitting positions, aging, and diet around the world found that the regions of the world with the lowest amount of osteoarthritis were countries in “the Eastern Mediterranean, North Africa, and South East Asia.” (2)
The study found that the diet of these countries was high in olive oil. Because more than 90% of the world’s olive oil is produced in that area of the world, people there also consume a lot of it. The report revealed that “the average percentage of dietary fat for this region is 40% of total energy intake, with almost all of it in the form of olive oil.” (2)
Olive oil has been proven to be anti-inflammatory and great for lowering your risk of diseases and conditions like osteoarthritis and other joint ailments. One study even showed that a diet rich in extra-virgin olive oil could reduce cartilage destruction and prevent the progression of arthritis. (3)
You can easily add olive oil to your diet by drizzling it over avocados, salads, toast, pastas, and cooked veggies. It adds a delicious flavor and can spice up any meal. You can use it for cooking as well – it’s healthier than other oils and it will help keep your joints happy!
Another natural plant chemical that your body needs to fight inflammation and arthritis is anthocyanin. You can find anthocyanins in dark, richly-colored fruits like blueberries, blackberries, and pomegranates. But the best way to get all the benefits of anthocyanins is…cherries!
In fact, researchers suggest that tart cherries have “the highest anti-inflammatory content of any food” – which makes them perfect for protecting your joints. (6) If you are suffering from joint pain, try drinking tart cherry juice.
In one study of 20 women with osteoarthritis, researchers discovered that drinking tart cherry juice twice a day decreased inflammation – even in the participants who had the highest levels of inflammation. (6)
Cherries also have benefits for athletes – in another study, researchers found that “people who drank tart cherry juice while training for a long-distance run reported significantly less pain after exercise than those who didn’t.” (6)
Oily fish is a common recommendation for people with joint problems. Omega-3 fatty acids are important players in defending your body and protecting against inflammation. Trout and sardines are other naturally oily fish that you can add to your diet as well. But frankly, salmon is the tastiest so that’s why it’s on the list.
Salmon is loaded with calcium and vitamin D, both important for keeping your bones strong. (8) Besides being good for your bones, it has a ton of other health benefits as well – it’s good for your heart, your brain, and it helps you age well.
Why canned salmon? What’s the difference? Well, turns out that canned salmon has even higher levels of omega-3s than fresh salmon. (7) And, it’s a little softer on your wallet as well. So, to really get the best bang for your buck, and the most omega-3s possible, try canned salmon.
Garlic is another natural protector against osteoarthritis. It’s a vegetable that’s high in allium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and manganese.
Researchers found that diallyl disulphide, one of the compounds found in garlic, “has been shown to reduce the expression of degrading enzymes that are linked with osteoarthritis,” according to one study. (9)
Besides is benefits for joint health, garlic is also great for lowering the risk of heart disease, reducing blood pressure, and it might even help prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s. Garlic is really a win-win!
Red peppers, olive oil, cherries, salmon, and garlic – five delicious foods that can protect your joints from inflammation and pain later on in life. Living to a long age is important, but what’s more important is living well, so that when you get older, you can still enjoy all your favorite activities and live pain-free.
It’s never too late to change your diet, accomplish your fitness goals, and prepare for the rest of your life. Making small changes to your diet and improving your fitness one step at a time can have long-lasting benefits and help you live and feel better.
So, protect your joints and help your body age well by adding these 5 super foods to your diet today – your future self will thank you!