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Muscle and Joint Pain

Joint pain affects approximately one third of all adults, and as we get older muscle and joint pain only gets worse if we don’t take care of ourselves.

What Causes Muscle and Joint Pain?

Muscle and joint pain can have many possible causes e.g. from a gym session to doing day to day chores to the result of being overweight, when an injury occurs, bursitis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or any other autoimmune disorders; aching joints and sore muscles can range from a simple twinge to debilitating pain.

Pain can sometimes be widespread or limited to one specific area and is often caused by inflammation. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury. Unfortunately when we’re in pain our most common reaction is to stop being active, but this will only result in making symptoms worse.

Joints – the body’s natural “hinge” require movement to be healthy. When you’re in pain your first inclination is to stop moving, however doing this causes joints to stiffen and the muscles to weaken resulting in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments deteriorating. Although it may be painful it’s best to try to keep moving with low impact exercise, like walking and swimming to keep joints moving and active.

What Can I Do to Help Muscle and Joint Pain?

Fortunately there are a number of things that can be done to minimise joint pain and arthritis.

Weight is an important factor in our joint health. Being overweight can result in the compression of joints and damage to cartilage especially in the knees and back. Losing weight can help reduce this stress and resulting pain of the joints.

Getting sunlight for a few minutes each day can supply your body with vitamin D. Vitamin D lowers the risk of developing arthritis and many other diseases including obesity, diabetes, and cancer. Keeping your body hydrated also helps to reduce the risk of joint injury by keeping them well lubricated.

There is also considerable research to show that what we eat can help alleviate, or exacerbate inflammation in muscles and joints. Avoid foods that contain artificial trans fats (or trans fatty acids), refined carbohydrates and processed sugars as these are believed to aggravate inflammation. Natural foods containing fibre, minerals, vitamins and nutrients are far better choices as they help to ease pain, reduce inflammation, alleviate muscle soreness and increase your mobility.

Andrea Dunn, RD, LD, CDE, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator in Cleveland Clinic’s Digestive Disease Institute said “Research is ongoing, but scientists already have found that certain foods may reduce arthritis-related inflammation and pain.”

Choosing and Consuming The Right Food

Fresh fruits and vegetables are full anti-inflammatory compounds called antioxidants. These anti-inflammatory compounds fight inflammation by ridding the body of free radicals that arise during the natural aging process as well as compounds in processed foods.

Examples include:

Cherries and Blueberries

Cherries, blueberries, blackcurrants, blackberries and cranberries get their deep red, purple or blue colour from the flavonoid anthocyanin which gives them their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

A number of studies have reported positive results in relieving inflammation and joint pain. In 2006 the Journal of Nutrition showed that the consumption of cherries lowered the circulating concentrations of inflammation markers in healthy men and women.

A further study in 2010 in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports found that marathon runners who drank cherry juice recovered more quickly following strenuous exercise. The cherry juice appeared to increased total antioxidative capacity, reduced inflammation, lipid peroxidation and aided in the recovery of muscle function.

Apples

Apples are high in antioxidants and a good source of fibre. Research suggests that eating some apple on a daily basis might lower levels of cholesterol as well as C-reactive protein (CRP), a key marker of inflammation in the blood.

The author of the research Bahram H. Arjmandi, the chair of Florida State University’s department of nutrition, food and exercise science in Tallahassee PhD said “Lower CRP is better for people with many inflammatory-related diseases, such as [rheumatoid arthritis] and atherosclerosis.”

Pineapple

Pineapple is rich in vitamin C, magnesium, manganese, copper, potassium, vitamin B1, vitamin B6, dietary fibre, folate and pantothenic acid and a key enzyme called bromelain.

Bromelain is made up of various thiol endopepeptidases as well as other enzymes such as glycosidase, peroxidase, phosphatase, cellulose and escharase. It’s bromelain that’s been shown to produce a number of beneficial effects including being an anti-inflammatory, an anti-oedematous which reduces swelling and an analgesic which acts to reduce pain

Papaya

Papaya has a number of enzymes similar to pineapple including vitamin C.

A study in 2011 in the Journal of Molecular Nutrition and Food Research found that papaya consumption may exert an anti-inflammatory response and have the potential in alleviating inflammatory conditions.

Kale, Brown Rice, and Seeds

Kale is rich in a number of things that give powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant benefits. From flavonoids which are plant-based pigments to glucosinolates, a form of phytonutrients to vitamin A which has shown to protect the body against cancer to vitamin B1 which is part of a group of eight related water soluble nutrients which helps maintain muscle health reducing the strain and pressure on joints.

Brown rice and seeds are also a fantastic source of vitamin B1.

Garlic, Onions and Leeks

Garlic, onions and leeks are related to one another and contain diallyl disulfide, an anti-inflammatory compound that limits the effects of pro-inflammatory cytokines which fights inflammation and pain.

Studies have shown that four sulfur-containing compounds in garlic inhibit the production of prostaglandins, proinflammatory cytokines and interleukin activated macrophages. Further studies have indicated that garlic and garlic extracts contain anti-oxidant compounds like allyl cysteine, alliin, allicin and allyldisulphide.

Beetroot

Beetroot is one of the best anti-inflammatory foods that you can eat. Beetroot is packed with fiber, antioxidants, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, nitrates, iron and potassium as well as folate, niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, vitamins A, C, K, B-12, B-6 and a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains. The two betalains in beetroot called betanin and vulgaxanthin have been shown to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support.

There are many more fruits and vegetables which can help with muscle and joint pain. To find out more sign up for my ebook.

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