Having painful, stiff, or swollen joints is a huge burden in life. It prevents you from doing the things you love the most. Whether it’s hiking, arts & crafts, or working on your next DIY project to improve the house. Seeking relief, many people will talk to their doctor.
He or she may recommend strategies like physical therapy, exercise, and a daily regimen of anti-inflammatory drugs. What most people don’t realize, however, is there’s something else you can do to support joint health.
It involves eating specific superfoods that can fight inflammation, reduce pain, and even reduce joint swelling. Here are the 7 best superfoods to relieve your overworked and achy joints.
1. Ginger Root
If you’re already experiencing joint discomfort, eating ginger can offer much needed relief. Ginger is known for helping the body to manage inflammation and control pain.
In fact, one study discovered that people with osteoarthritis experienced a 30% reduction of pain simply by consuming ginger on a regular basis (1).
Several scientific reports also strongly support that gingerols found in ginger are potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds, helping to support and maintain joint health (2).
2. Turmeric Root
Turmeric contains a powerful compound called curcumin. It’s the key component responsible for many of turmeric’s incredible benefits.
Curcumin actually inhibits inflammation at the molecular level, by interrupting NF-kB (nuclear factor kappa beta), a protein that turns on inflammation in cells. The journal Oncogene published a study in 2004 showing curcumin even matched the effectiveness of some well-known anti-inflammatory drugs, without any negative side effects (3).
Because turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory, it provides relief for achy and stiff joints. Another pilot study on rheumatoid arthritis patients showed curcumin performed better than an anti-inflammatory drug (4).
3. Tart Cherry Juice & Cherries
Researchers have found that tart cherry juice and cherries are one of the best foods out there to support healthy joints.
One study, for example, found that drinking cherry juice twice a day for 21 days reduced joint painand inflammation caused by osteoarthritis (5). Cherries support joints in another way as well.
Scientists have discovered that consuming cherries can help reduce uric acid in the body (6). This is important because when uric acid builds up in the joints, it causes considerable pain, and can lead to gout, a type of arthritis (7).
4. Seeds Rich in Essential Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are beneficial for your heart, brain, skin and more. These healthy fats work by helping to reduce inflammation, and research shows them to be effective for joint pain (8).
What makes these healthy fats so essential is that your body can’t make them, so you have to seek out food sources. The essential fatty acids to look for are alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3) and linoleic acid (omega-6).
Seeds are some of the best sources of joint-soothing omega-3 and omega-6. These include hemp seeds and hemp seed oil, flax seeds, borage seed oil, chia seeds and pumpkin seeds.
5. Cannabidiol (CBD) Oil
While hemp seeds are rich in two essential fatty acids: omega-6 and omega-3, other parts of the hemp plant also have special beneficial compounds.
Hemp is now cultivated for its cannabinoids, and in particular cannabidiol (CBD), which is extracted into an oil that has remarkable health benefits.
Research shows that cannabinoids target temporary inflammation by working with the body’s endocannabinoid system, thereby helping to relieve discomfort and promote healthy joints (9).
6. Cruciferous Vegetables
If you’re looking to preserve the health of your joints, then cruciferous veggies are a must. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower contain an amazing compound called sulforaphane.
Among its many benefits, sulforaphane protects the health of your joints. One study specifically found that the sulforaphane in broccoli can help prevent the degradation of cartilage (10).
Why does this matter? Well, your joints are primarily made up of cartilage. This cartilage can break down over time, eventually causing the bones to scrape against one another resulting in joint pain, stiffness, and discomfort.
The juice and core of pineapples contain bromelain, which is a proteolytic enzyme that helps to break down excess proteins in the body.
Over the years, studies have suggested that bromelain provides an impressive range of health benefits including its ability to reduce allergy symptoms (11) and prevent muscle soreness after exercise (12).
But what makes bromelain really shine is its effect on the joints. Evidence suggests that bromelain may relieve osteoarthritis, ease joint pain, reduce swelling, and alleviate inflammation (13).
If you want to take full advantage of these benefits, consider taking a supplement that contains bromelain. That’s because bromelain works best as a proteolytic enzyme when taken in-between meals. Supplements also deliver a high potency amount of bromelain for optimal benefit.
Whether you’re experiencing joint discomfort from wear and tear, an old injury or strenuous exercise, these superfoods have beneficial compounds that can help restore and protect the health of your joints. Consider adding or supplementing these foods for the next several months to start seeing more spring in your step.