Joints play a crucial role in keeping us active, healthy, and independent. Unfortunately, joint health deteriorates as we age, often impairing our ability to make the most of our golden years. But, did you know there are natural ways to delay and even prevent the onset of joint disease?
What Exactly Are Joints?
Joints are the points of connection between bones. In other words, joints occur anywhere in our body where two or more bones make contact. There are between 250 and 400 joints in our bodies, most of which help with mechanical support and movement.
Joints are structurally classified into three main categories: fibrous joints, cartilaginous joints, and synovial joints. Each type of joint has different properties and a specific function; however, they are all similar in that they deteriorate as we age.
Why Does Joint Health Decline as We Age?
Walking and exercising can wear down the connective tissue that joints are made of due to constant friction between the joints and the bones. With age, this friction causes the smooth tissue in joints to gradually disappear. The deterioration of joint tissue can lead to soreness, stiffness, loss of muscle tone, and loss of bone strength. Inevitably, a lifetime of physical movement takes a toll on joint health which is why many older adults suffer from joint conditions, the most common of these being arthritis.
What Is Arthritis?
Arthritis refers to chronic inflammation of one or more joints. Symptoms of arthritis include pain, swelling, redness, and limited range of motion. Arthritis is typically related to aging, meaning symptoms worsen over time.
In addition to aging, other risk factors for arthritis include family history, previous joint injuries, and obesity. Severe cases of arthritis can make it difficult to walk comfortably or sit up straight; however, most people with arthritis can manage their symptoms with medical treatments.
Arthritis and other joint conditions can be prevented by keeping your joints healthy through proper care methods like maintaining a healthy diet, staying physically active, and taking natural joint supplements.
How to Take Care of Joints Naturally
Maintaining and improving joint health requires lifestyle adjustments, particularly proper exercise and nutrition. While most cases of joint disease occur in older adults, it is never too early (or too late) to begin taking care of your joints. The following options will not only improve joint function, but they will also improve your overall quality of life.
A simple exercise routine can help strengthen your muscles and keep your bones healthy. Exercise can also improve flexibility and help you maintain a healthy weight. Extra weight adds strain to your knees and hips, so choose low-impact exercises like yoga and swimming which are easier on your joints. Sports like tennis, soccer, and basketball are great options, but they may put more pressure on your joints in the long run.
Foods for Joint Health
Certain foods can improve joint health by providing your body with the right nutrients to keep your joints, bones, and muscles strong and mobile. Nutritionists recommend nutrient-rich foods like cherries, kale, and turmeric.
Experts also advise keeping the number of processed foods to a bare minimum. For improved joint mobility, avoid fried foods, alcohol, sugar, and trans-saturated fats.
Here is a full list of foods for joint health
Certain vitamins and minerals are essential for joint health. These include vitamin D, vitamin C, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids. If you do not get enough of these nutrients naturally through your diet, use supplements to help you incorporate them into your daily routine.
Other Natural Treatments for Joint Health
Doctors agree that the most efficient, natural way to improve joint health is through diet and exercise; however, other methods can also help. For example, heat/cold therapy can reduce inflammation, while adequate rest can help minimize pain and reduce swelling.
To find out what methods work best for you, consult with a medical professional who can give you personalized advice for your individual joint and bone health needs.