10 ways to look after your joints and bones
Our bone and joint health isn’t something we give much thought to…until it’s often too late.
In order to keep ourselves healthy our joints and bones need the right source of vitamins, minerals and foods in order to function properly.
So if you want to take preventive action now, you can start with the foods we consume daily. Your body will start to feel the benefits of any new changes you incorporate. Chiropractor Dr Frederik Fuchs of SpineCentral in London gives his advice on what to eat and other tips for good bone health…
1. Eat what your joints are made of – collagen
This particular type of food has been mainly ignored and almost forgotten. However, collagen is one of the most important types of food that help to improve and maintain healthy joint function. All our ligaments, tendon and joints are primarily made up of collagen. Good sources include animal skin, joints, and organs, and historically used to be part of most people diets (in the form of bone broth). Nowadays, people either do not know how to prepare these dishes or, more commonly, simply dislike them.
A great way to make sure you are not missing out is to use supplements including glucosamine, chondroitin and hyaluronic acid such as LQ Joint Care (Boots.com, £24.99). In addition to maintaining healthy joints, collagen supplements may help with acne and other skin problems. Essentially, your skin, hair and joints are made of very similar raw material and all require collagen to remain healthy and shiny.
2. Make sure you get enough vitamin C
In the past British sailors were knows as limeys because it was part of the on-board diet to regularly eat limes in order to provide ample amount of vitamin C. When we suffer from a lack of vitamin C, our soft tissues (eg skin, tendons, and ligaments) become weak. An early symptom of that is of gum bleeding, which should never be taken lightly and be checked out by your GP. A common cause of bleeding gums when you brush your teeth could be due to a lack of vitamin C.
Furthermore, vitamin C lowers inflammation and improves our immune system. So it is always good to make sure you have enough of it. Sources of a high amount of vitamin C include bell peppers, dark leafy greens, kiwis, broccoli, berries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, peas, and papayas.
3. Get plenty of calcium
What is the first thing that comes to mind when we hear that? That’s right; we must drink plenty of milk. However, research has shown the best source of calcium is actually in vegetables and not milk.
The best way to get your daily intake of calcium is to eat green leafy vegetables. An easy and quick way is to juice or blend them into a smoothie and have it at the beginning of the day. It is important that the majority of your juice or smoothie is in fact green leafy vegetables and not just sweet fruits, as those have very little calcium.
4. Moderate your coffee intake
Coffee is known for its positive health benefits but research suggests it may interact with the calcium absorption. Each cup of coffee contains on average 60-120 mg of caffeine. The recommended intake of caffeine is 300mg a day, which is roughly equivalent to three to four cups of soluble coffee. Studies show that a cup of coffee causes a calcium loss of 2-4 mg, a negligible figure when compared to the amount of calcium in the diet (for example: 1 cup of milk has 300 mg, a 30g-slice of cheese has about 150-200 mg). So moderate coffee intake will not harm younger adults but it can put elderly women at a higher risk of bone fractures and osteoporosis.
5. Divorce your sofa and get active
Bones are not rigid but continuously grow and our lifestyle has a massive impact on that. In order for a bone to become stronger it needs to be stimulated through physical stress. That is why weight training and running is so important.
Arthritis Research UK suggests that it is important to exercise in order to look after your joints, as it helps to keep the muscles strong and your joints moving. You can exercise without putting a strain on your joints. The muscles around your joints become stronger as a result of exercising in order to support them. Adults aged between 19 and 64 are recommended to do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity in bouts of ten minutes or more each week. Activities could include cycling or brisk walking. Yoga and tai chi are good for balance and coordination, which can ease stiffness associated with painful joints and unsteadiness.
6. See a chiropractor
Like our bodies, joints are made for movement. But due to excess stress such as sitting, meeting deadlines and other injuries our joints can become locked up. Initially our body can compensate for that but as certain joints stop moving in normal ways, our joints starts to degenerate and may cause arthritis in your spine and other joints. The job of the chiropractor is to make sure that your joints – especially those in your back – are in proper alignment and move in a normal way.
7. Stock up on vitamin D
A low amount of vitamin D in our diets causes muscle weakness, which can lead to falls and fractures as we age. The Department of Health recommends people should also take a supplement of (0.01mg) of vitamin D if over 65 years old and are not exposed to a lot of sunlight. Most people should be able to get the required amount of vitamin D through 15 minutes of sunlight and a balanced diet. Vitamin D is also found in oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel.
Vitamin D has several important functions such as helping to regulate calcium and phosphate in the body. In order to keep bones and teeth healthy these nutrients are essential. Lack of vitamin D can cause bone deformities such as bone tenderness and a condition called osteomalacia. In adults vitamin D deficiency causing bone pain and weakening of the bones is known as osteoporosis.
8. Top up with vitamin K
The NHS suggests there is evidence that vitamin K is necessary for bone health. Bones have proteins in them that are dependent on vitamin K. Vitamin K can be found in green leafy vegetables including spinach and broccoli, vegetable oils and cereal grains including small amounts found in meat and dairy products. By eating a varied and balanced diet you should be able to get an adequate amount of vitamin D.
9. Get enough omega-3
Studies have found that omega-3 can help conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis and many others. It’s good for preventing inflamed joints, which can also be a result of ageing. The build-up of free radicals can contribute to the ageing process and age-related diseases such as osteoarthritis.
Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines are a very nutritious source of omega-3. It is suggested that we eat two to three portions a week. Other forms are found in fortified eggs and nuts such as linseeds, flaxseeds, and walnuts. The intake of these fats can affect bone formation and the rate at which bone is broken down.
10. Cut down on acidic foods
If your diet is too acidic the body can use the alkalising minerals in the bones and teeth to neutralise the body’s acidity, which weakens the bones. The overconsumption of red meat, processed food, sugar and diary are responsible for causing acidity in the body. In order to alkalise the body, it is recommended we eat plenty of green leafy vegetables and start the day with hot water and lemon. Raw apple cider vinegar can also naturally alkalise the body just by drinking two tablespoons.
Dr Frederik recommends the supplement LQ Joint Care – a scientifically formulated liquid joint care supplement to promote healthy joints, cartilage and bones. Available from Boots.com at £24.99 for a box of ten.