Foods and Supplements to Ease Muscle and Joint Pain

Ease body aches like muscle and joint pain with the help of these tips

Best Health Pain Awards 2017, a woman taking a pillphoto credit: shutterstock

Source: Best Health magazine, Summer 2015

Muscle and joint pain affects all of us at some point in life. Summer, in particular, is associated with body aches as we shake off hibernation for sports, gardening and household activities. However, you can enjoy warm weather pursuits while keeping discomfort to
a minimum. Here’s how.

Food for thought

The first thing to do is prepare your body by  choosing specific muscle-and joint-protective foods. Fish (particularly salmon, mackerel, trout and sardines), flaxseed, avocado and walnuts are all rich in omega-3 fats, which decrease the production of inflammatory chemicals produced by the immune system in response to exercise.

Kale, broccoli and collard greens are high in vitamin A, which protects the body from inflammatory cytokines ‘ interferon and tumor necrosis factors (TNF), that break down collagen in bones and joints. Beets, too, are a good choice, as they contain a natural antioxidant called betalain, which also protects collagen.

And, capsaicin, the active ingredient in chili peppers, inhibits a protein called NF-kappa B, which is involved in the control of genes responsible for inflammation.

Also consider adding ginger to your diet, as it reduces the production of several inflammatory agents.

At the same time, ensure that you’re getting adequate protein to rebuild muscle, and keep hydrated to allow muscles to remain more pliable and elastic.

On the ‘what to avoid’ front, aim to minimize your intake of sugars and refined carbohydrates to reduce the general inflammatory load within blood vessels.

Another food group to avoid is ‘nightshade’ vegetables ‘ bell peppers, potatoes, eggplant and tomatoes ‘ since they contain alkaloids that may inflame your nerves, muscles and joints.

As for exercise, be sure to warm up before you start any activity and then stretch afterwards. And don’t be a weekend warrior ‘ it’s better to exercise a little every day rather than overexert yourself once a week.

Supplements for joint damage

Despite all these measures, you may still experience some aches and pains. Here are a few supplements to prevent and treat muscle and joint damage:

Natural eggshell membrane (NEM) contains all the vital structural elements of our articular cartilage to help rebuild. It also inhibits the production of inflammatory cytokines, providing long-lasting pain relief.

Undenatured type II collagen (UC-II) is helpful, too. It works by deactivating specific killer T-cells that secrete collagenases, the enzymes that break down collagen. In the small intestine, there are areas of high T-cell concentration known as Peyer’s patches. When UC-II enters these areas, the immune system recognizes them as similar to the body’s collagen and instructs the T-cells to leave this type of collagen alone. That message is then disseminated through the body, greatly suppressing the degradation of collagen and joint inflammation.

Taking a calcium and magnesium supplement to help control muscle contraction, relaxation and repair is a key component to muscle health all year round.

Being active has tremendous benefits for our physical and mental health. By following these simple food and exercise tips, you can enjoy a full and active summer, pain-free.

Originally Published in Best Health Canada