Joint pain is, to put it lightly … uncomfortable. Whether you’re experiencing mild stiffness or full-blown aches and pains, it’s something that is extremely difficult to escape, seeing as our days are filled with movement.
We often get questions about joint health and pain, so we wanted to provide a nutritional perspective on the situation!
The foods listed below are research-backed to help ease inflammation, which is one of the main drivers of joint pain. They are also lubricants, which can help joints move more fluidly and with less “rub,” possibly resulting in less pain.
Let’s dive in to filling your plate with joint-nourishing foods!
Top Foods To Help Ease Joint Pain
As we know, joint pain can be caused by many factors, ranging from simply not enough movement, to age, nutritional deficiencies, injuries, lack of lubrication, and inflammation (which also has many different causes). These foods help to address many of these causes simultaneously.
1. Wild Caught Fish
Wild fish like salmon and sardines (the fattier the better) are abundant with omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s have been proven to be powerhouse inflammation-reducers, as well as assist with lubrication. Typically, we consume much, much more omega-6 fatty acids on a daily basis, which can be pro-inflammatory if they aren’t offset by omega-3s. Aim to consume 3-4 servings of wild (wild to avoid chemicals used in farming fish) fish per week.
2. Olive Oil
Olive oil is rich in another type of fat – a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid – which in studies has shown the ability to reduce certain markers of inflammation. Not to mention, olive oil also contains oleocanthal, which has been shown to work similarly to ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory drug. Try adding cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil (this is critical, as many “olive” oil brands have been known to dilute their oils with sunflower or other seed oils, which can exacerbate inflammation) to your salads, as well as drizzle on veggies.
3. Avocados and Walnuts
The antioxidants (vitamin E and other phenols) and monounsaturated fats in avocados have also been shown to reduce inflammation. Plus, these extra fatty acids can provide lubrication and hydration to to joints and cartilage, adding flexibility and easing stiffness.
Alongside avocados, walnuts also contain a high amount of monounsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids. Try adding both to your salads!
4. Turmeric and Ginger
Turmeric and ginger are two of the most potent superfoods you can add to your diet to reduce inflammation. Research has shown that the active compound in turmeric, curcumin, is effective in easing symptoms of arthritis, which includes joint pain and stiffness. Ginger has also shown to significantly help reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis in studies.
Try adding turmeric and ginger powder to smoothies, making a fresh ginger tea with ginger shavings, or even making a curry (curry spice contains turmeric).
5. Green Tea, Berries, and Other Antioxidant Foods
Foods with high antioxidant levels can help soothe inflammation and protect DNA and tissues from damage. They can also help stimulate collagen production, which can ease joint running and stiffness if the cause is due to not having a sufficient amount of cartilage.
Green tea, berries, kiwis, oranges, sweet potatoes, and other highly-pigmented foods are ripe with antioxidants, so aim to indulge in them at least once a day.
Making sure you’re getting enough quality proteins and amino acids is more of a preventative and long-term factor in easing joint pain. Our joints and cartilage/tendons are constructed of the amino acids found in protein … and if we aren’t getting enough, then can result in a degrading of our tissues over time.
Get at least a serving per day of high-quality (preferably organic) protein. And, yes, your fish counts!
Also Keep In Mind These Factors
One: make sure you’re drinking enough water. This is especially crucial if you’ve upped your training or activity level, as you’re expending more fluids.
Secondly: get tested for food sensitivities. Sometimes, being sensitive to various foods (nightshades, shellfish, gluten, dairy, etc …) can cause widespread inflammation that you happen to notice specifically in your joints. Ruling these out or discovering a food that is subtly bothering you can result in less fatigue and inflammation in general in the future, so give it a try.
And finally, we also have a joint mobility series available on the Durable Athlete App which can help loosen and lubricate joint, as well as help ease pressure in certain joints and tendons. Check it out here (P.S.: you get a FREE 14-day Trial when you sign up!):