Our joints, as well as our bones, take a lot of impact through our daily lives. Here’s how you can keep them in good health.
We put our joints and bones to the test over the years, and without protecting them through a healthy diet and lifestyle, we can develop a range of issues, especially later in life.
So here, True Health explains how you can make some simple, holistic changes to your lifestyle to ensure your joints and bones stay in good health.
Lindsay Powers, Nutritional Therapist and Health Coach Manager at Good Health Naturally, explained: “Inactivity and a lack of weight-bearing exercise can impact joint and bone health. Studies show that weight-bearing exercise can help to slow bone loss and even build bone. Activities that put pressure on the bones can stimulate calcium deposits and encourage the action of bone-forming cells. Inactivity can also cause muscles to be weak. This can potentially increase the risk of trips and falls and, consequently, bone fractures or tendon or joint injuries. Therefore, it is essential to have daily exercise, such as walking and running, to put as much impact on the bones as possible.”
Joint and bones conditions
When it comes to the issues we are most frequently affected by, Lindsay explained: “The most common joint-related problems tend to relate to inflammatory joint conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Whilst osteoarthritis relates more to the ‘wear and tear’ of joint tissue, RA is an autoimmune-related condition. However, they are both characteristic of severe joint pain and inflammation, resulting in subsequent damage and degeneration of the connective tissue.
“According to the NHS, joint-related issues affect large numbers of the population, with around 10 million people in the UK having arthritis or similar joint-related problems. Ongoing joint-related issues can begin as early as the mid-40s, but more severe cases of arthritis tend to affect older people from the mid-60s upwards. Some problems can affect children, as in the case of Juvenile Arthritis. Injuries or problems such as gout or autoimmune conditions can affect any age group and create ongoing issues with joint health.
“According to Age UK, over three million people in the UK are estimated to have osteoporosis, which is the most common form of bone disease. However, it is often referred to as the ‘silent disease’ as many people are unaware they have it until they break a bone, and there are more than 300,000 fractures each year due to osteoporosis.”
So, what can you do from a preventative perspective, looking at diet and with a focus on nutrients to reduce the risk of joint and bone ill health?
“Try to maintain a healthy weight, as excess weight can stress the joints, especially the knees, and worsen arthritis symptoms and tissue damage. Aim to follow a healthy plant-based diet with lots of healthy fats, legumes, and brightly coloured fruits and vegetables. If you eat meat and fish, keep red meat to a minimum and choose oily fish for its anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids,” Lindsay advised.
“Clear all sugars, refined carbohydrates and ultra-processed foods from the diet as they can be pro-inflammatory. Try to keep alcohol consumption within healthy recommended ranges. Alcohol may increase inflammation in the body, and some research suggests that alcohol may worsen joint pain. If you smoke, seek advice to help you quit, as smoking may also contribute to the joint pain associated with arthritis.
“In terms of nutrition, calcium is a well-known nutrient for bone health. Generally, we get plenty of calcium through our diets, with calcium-rich food including green leafy veg, cheese, tofu and sesame seeds and tahini, and fish such as sardines where you eat the bones. Vitamin D, primarily from sunlight, is another critical bone-health nutrient, so aim to get out in the midday sun during the summer months to top up your levels. It may also be essential to consider a vitamin D3 supplement. It is not always possible to get a sufficient intake from sunlight and food, and many of us are considerably low in vitamin D levels.”
You might also want to consider adding in some key supplements, as Lindsay suggested.
“Modern diets may also lack critical nutrients to help build strong bones, such as magnesium, K2 and D3. Calcium absorption into the bones relies on essential co-factors, magnesium, D3 and K2. Vitamin K2 activates the calcium-binding actions of two proteins, matrix GLA protein and osteocalcin, which help build and maintain bones. Magnesium is also essential for bone synthesis and stabilising the bone-building processes. Where osteoporosis is present, this isn’t usually an indication of a lack of calcium, just that it may not reach the bones effectively. Therefore, diet is essential to ensure a good intake of the correct vitamin and mineral co-factors.
“Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for collagen synthesis and necessary for healthy connective tissue in the musculoskeletal system. We can get a good intake from fruits and vegetables, or to support a good daily intake, a supplement can be taken. You can also take collagen supplements containing Type 11 collagen peptides which are the most abundant in joint tissue.
“Curcumin, the active component of the turmeric root, has been extensively researched for its anti-inflammatory properties and benefits for arthritic conditions. Serrapeptase is an effective anti-inflammatory enzyme, which is a good choice for joint health and inflammatory health conditions. Plus, it’s always helpful to include an omega 3 fatty acid supplement, such as krill oil or fish oil, as this will help to increase the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines in the body to help protect joint and bone health.”
And remember to move too for the long-term heath of your joints and bones.
Lindsay explained: “We must remain active as our joints and bones respond well to activity. As our bones are constantly remodelling, exercise helps the bone-forming cells to be more active. Walking is an excellent weight-bearing exercise that helps maintain strong bones and strengthens the muscles to help improve overall balance and coordination and prevent falls and fractures. Try picking up the pace on your daily walk and aim for at least 30-60 minutes of brisk walking each day.
“Research shows that exercise can also help ease arthritic pain and joint stiffness. Regular exercise, such as walking and swimming, can increase joint flexibility and strength. Other options, such as Pilates and yoga, are great ways to exercise gently, helping to improve flexibility and ease tension whilst relieving arthritic pain.”