You might not think your food choices have much of an impact on joint health—but they do—big time. The foods you choose can be a significant influence on whether your joints limit your livelihood with severe pain or allow you to get out and enjoy life.
Food influences your joints in a couple or ways. One is that certain nutrients can help aid and promote tissue growth in your joints. Another is that they can either promote or battle inflammation. And finally, some calorically dense foods that are low in nutrition can promote weight gain, which puts increased stress on your joints.
When it comes to foods that are good for joint health and may reduce pain, stiffness, and other discomfort, you’ll want to look for nutrient-dense foods. These largely include items like fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, whole grain, olive oil, fish, and a selection of lean proteins. Foods that are minimally processed are usually the best at limiting inflammation and promoting joint health. They feature a host of nutrients—vitamins, minerals, antioxidants—that promote tissue growth, bone strength, and function.
Some of the best foods to fight joint pain include:
- Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines)
- Olive oil
- Tart cherry juice
On the other hand, there are food groups that can promote inflammation and increase the risk of joint pain. These foods are typically high in sugar and refined carbs or are greasy and fried. Cooking can also influence certain foods’ impact on joint health. When some foods are cooked at high heat—via grilling, frying, or pasteurization—they produce advanced glycation end product (AGE) that can drive inflammation.
Some foods that can stimulate joint pain include:
- Fried meats
- Frozen meals
- Processed/refined foods
- Deli meats (lunch meats/cold cuts)
- French fries
- Items baked with white flour
- Foods with high calories and low nutrition
Protecting joint health and limiting joint pain is a multifactorial process, but diet plays a big role. Try eating more foods that can aid joint health and it may make a big difference in your livelihood.