Physical activity, a healthy diet, and good posture can help you stay healthy and keep your joints healthy, too. Persona dietitian, Emily Navarro, breaks it down:
1) Maintain a healthy weight
Carrying a few extra pounds puts stress on your joints. In fact, losing just one pound of weight removes four pounds of pressure from your knees. In other words, shedding ten pounds will take 40 pounds of pressure off your knees.
Joint health benefits of a healthy weight:
- Reduces pressure on your joints
- Helps ease pain
- Reduces inflammation
- Preserves cartilage
2) Keep moving
When your joints ache, exercise might feel like the last thing you want to do. The truth is, staying active actually helps ease joint stiffness, reduces pain, and strengthens the muscles that support your joints. Take it slow and protect your joints with low-impact exercises like swimming, walking, yoga, cycling, or strength training.
Joint health benefits of physical activity:
- Reduces joint stiffness
- Eases discomfort
- Keeps joints strong and flexible
- Weight maintenance
3) Practice good posture
When you sit still at a computer, do repetitive motions, or lift heavy objects you can strain the joints in your neck, back, hands and wrists. Practice good posture to reduce stress on your joints and muscles.
Tips for good posture:
- Sit upright, lift your chest and relax your shoulders.
- When you sit in a chair, keep your feet flat on the floor with your hips bent at a 90-degree angle.
- Change positions often and get up to move or stretch at least twice an hour.
- Adjust your computer monitor so that the top of the screen is at, or slightly below, eye level.
- Position your keyboard and mouse level with your elbows.
4) Stay Hydrated
You are made of mostly water. Every cell, organ, and tissue in your body needs water to function properly, including your joints. Water helps lubricate and cushion the connective tissues that make up your joints. And just like a wet sponge, hydrated cartilage is softer and more flexible which reduces friction and pain.
The amount of water you need varies based on your size, weight, activity level, and gender. According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, women generally need about 11.5 cups of water a day and men should aim for 15.5 cups.
Tips to stay hydrated:
- Drink full glass of water in the morning while you wait for your coffee to brew.
- Keep a water bottle within reach at all times, even when you are at home.
- Add a slice of cucumber, frozen berries, or a sprig of fresh herbs to water or unsweetened tea for a hint of flavor without added sugar.
- Eat foods with a high-water content, like raw vegetables and fruit.
- Cut back on alcohol. When you do imbibe, drink in moderation and have plenty of water to counteract the effects.
5) Eat a healthy diet
Eating well is not only great for overall health and wellness, it can support joint health and reduce inflammation too. A diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods like vegetables, fruit, fish, nuts and beans with minimal amounts of processed foods and saturated fat can slow joint destruction, reduce pain, and ease pressure on your joints by helping maintain a healthy weight.
Tips for a healthy diet:
- Aim for five to nine servings of vegetables and fruit per day. Add a handful of spinach to smoothies, snack on cut veggies with hummus, and fill half your plate with produce.
- Eat lean proteins like chicken, fish, beans, Greek yogurt, and eggs to support strong muscles.
- Eat seafood twice per week. Oily fish like salmon, mackerel, and trout are high in omega-3s which help reduce inflammation.
- Go meatless once a week. Swap meat for plant-based sources of protein like beans and lentils.
- Cut back on processed foods. Replace sugary drinks with water or unsweetened tea and replace packaged snacks with whole foods like fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
What’s the deal with nightshade vegetables?
Nightshades are a family of vegetables like eggplant, tomatoes, bell peppers, and potatoes that some consider to be culprits for joint discomfort. These vegetables offer plenty of health benefits and there is no evidence that nightshades are to blame. Still, some people report relief when they avoid them. Track how you feel after eating these vegetables, if you feel discomfort, consider eliminating them for a few weeks then add them back slowly to see if your symptoms are related.