healthy-joint-food-200-300Keeping our joints healthy is one of the most important things we can do to remain independent and active as we age. Life can become quite challenging for individuals who are immobilized by joint pain, since it can result in reduced physical and social activity as well as a higher risk of psychological and emotional problems.

When it comes to joint health, exercise is very important, but what you EAT also plays a significant part. Here are some of our favorite joint-friendly foods:

Water — Perhaps the single-most important “food” is water. This liquid is essential for maintaining every system within the body. Water helps in the elimination of toxins, including those poisons that can create joint pain. Water also helps in the delivery of nutrients to the various parts of the body and—like the oil in your car—is essential for joint lubrication. Drink plenty of water every day!

Fish — Cold water fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, white tuna, halibut and trout can deliver healthy doses of omega-3 from the fish oil in each serving. Omega-3 fatty acid is known to reduce inflammation that can cause or increase joint pain. Fish oil can also slow down cartilage degeneration. Cartilage is the rubbery substance between bones that allows for smooth movement. When this wears out, movement becomes extremely painful.

Dairy products — In addition to contributing to bone health, dairy products (and particularly low-fat ones) such as cottage cheese, yogurt and milk can also help eliminate painful gout symptoms.

Flax Seeds — Flax is another source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for great joint health. Flax seeds and flax seed oil are high in antioxidants, which help to prevent or delay some effects of aging. Flax also contains lots of fiber, which can help you feel fuller for a longer time, reducing the likelihood of snacking. Frequent snacking can lead to obesity—a condition frequently associated with joint pain.

Spices —Curry, ginger and cinnamon also have anti-inflammatory properties that can help your joints. Turmeric has been shown to be particularly effective in reducing the symptoms of osteoarthritis. With these spices in the mix, a joint-friendly diet certainly doesn’t have to taste bad or be bland.

Green tea — Both an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, green tea is a healthy beverage to add to your meals. It’s been shown to improve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Papaya —The Annals of Rheumatic Diseases published a 2004 study showing a strong correlation between low vitamin C intake and rheumatoid arthritis. Those with the lowest vitamin C consumption were 3 times more likely to develop the disease. Though orange juice has a good dose of vitamin C, papaya has nearly twice as much. Not only that, papaya also includes a good dose of beta carotene for even more anti-oxidant joint support.

Tart cherry juice — The anthocyanins contained in this juice are powerful anti-inflammatories that have been shown to reduce arthritis-related inflammation even better than aspirin. In addition, cherry juice is effective in reducing the painful symptoms of gout.

With frequent news coverage of late, C-Reactive protein is a term that has been bandied about in the media – but what is it exactly? Produced in the liver, C-Reactive protein, or CRP, is a protein that is released into the bloodstream as a response to inflammation in the body. High levels of CRP are a cause for alarm, since its presence can be linked to inflammation possibly arising from infection, lupus, tuberculosis, heart attack risk, burns and even cancer.

CRP is believed to play a significant role in the body’s early defense mechanism against infections, where its physiological role is to bind with a compound present on the surface of dead and dying cells, and even some bacteria, known as phosphocholine. It then activates the complement system, a part of the immune system called the “innate immune system,” via the C1Q complex.

The usefulness of the C-reactive protein is its ability to determine the progress of a disease, and it can also be used to assess whether a treatment for diseases associated with inflammation are working or not. In order to measure the levels of CRP in the blood, first a blood sample from the patient must be collected and analyzed. The levels of CRP in healthy individuals are negligible and will not show up in the test. For sufferers of diseases associated with inflammation, the test will show various levels of CRP in the blood. The measurement of CRP in the bloodstream not only can also help to determine whether someone is at risk of heart disease, but also assesses the severity of the risk.

Studies have found that patients who have raised basal levels of C-Reactive proteins are at an increased risk from diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. There is also a strong correlation between the lipid responses to low fat and high-polyunsaturated fat diets and CRP levels.

Some organs in the body are at an increased risk from cancer when they become chronically inflamed, and such inflammation may be highlighted by the presence of CRP in the body. In one study samples were collected from sufferers of colon cancer and a control group, the average levels of CRP in those with colon cancer measured 2.69mg/l, whereas those in the control group had a mean value of 1.97mg/l. With significant difference between the two groups, this supports previous studies that connect the intake of anti-inflammatory medication with the lowering of colon cancer risks.

While the measurement of CRP cannot pinpoint the exact location of the inflammation in the body, it can be used to monitor and detect the presence of diseases associated with inflammation, and can monitor whether medication is effective on inflammatory diseases being treated.

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