A joint is the part of the body where two or more bones join together. One of the main functions of the joints is to allow movement of the body, so keeping them healthy is essential. Without healthy joints we are unable to easily complete daily activities such as getting out of a chair, grocery shopping or sport and physical exercise.
Joints can be movable, like shoulders, knees and hips – or rigid such as the joints in the skull. Joints often have cartilage at the ends of the bones where they meet. Cartilage protects bones by stopping them from rubbing together and helps them glide easily over each other, for ease of movement.
There are numerous factors that can contribute to maintaining joint health or alternatively may be detrimental to the health of your joints. Some of these factors include:
- Family history – you may be more likely to develop joint problems if it runs in the family.
- Ageing – long term strain on joints may wear out cartilage.
- Previous injury – makes it more likely you may develop problems with that joint down the track.
- Excess weight – puts more strain on joints, placing you at higher risk for developing joint concerns.
- Constant strain and repetition on specific joints – such as constant bending or running long distances.
A variety of nutrients and herbs may assist in the management of joint health. Some factors to consider to keep your joints healthy may include adding the following to your diet:
Glucosamine – this may provide temporary relief from joint tenderness, pain and inflammation associated with mild osteoarthritis. It may also improve functional ability for people suffering from knee pain.
Turmeric – Curcumin is the active component of the herb Turmeric and Turmeric has mild anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric may assist with joint function and mobility.
Manganese – this essential mineral is necessary for the development and maintenance of healthy bones and joints. It is also required to synthesize cartilage. Good food sources of manganese include nuts, whole grains, dried fruits and green leafy vegetables.
Vitamin C – this vitamin is essential for collagen formation and helps maintain the integrity of connective tissue such as cartilage and joints. Good sources of vitamin C in our diet are citrus fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, potatoes and Brussel sprouts.
Chondroitin sulfate – this is an important building block of cartilage. It may improve joint function by increasing mobility and flexibility. It may also temporarily relieve the pain and joint swelling of mild osteoarthritis.
Fish oil and krill oil – contain the healthy omega-3 fats which may temporarily reduce the inflammation associated with mild osteoarthritis.