Joint health – Look after your joints this winter!
For the last ten years I have always used walking poles when I go out hiking. They help support my joints and as a bonus, you get an upper body workout too! Well, I’m not too old and crumbly just yet but my hips and knees do suffer from long walks and more specifically big mountainous walks. Last year walking up Helvellyn in the Lake District I was so pleased I had my walking poles with me as it was really hard going. The other reason I need my poles is to keep up with my partner who has legs of steel and walks a lot faster than me! Surprisingly though I didn’t suffer too much aching.
The way we exercise and the food we eat does affect the way we function. Joint health is important, here are a few tips for helping your joints not only feel better this winter but to help you stay healthy with a spring in your step for as long as you can:
1. Lose weight; you know if you’ve got a little too heavy. The heavier you are the more pressure there is on your joints especially your hips, knees and ankles. Losing weight will immediately improve your movement.
2. Drink plenty of water to keep hydrated; as we get older we lose more moisture from our bodies including the cartilage that cushions our joints. So drink at least 8 glasses (2L) of water a day to keep your hydration level topped up.
3. Try drinking Red-bush (Rooibos) Tea; It’s caffeine free and it also has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and muscle relaxant properties which are vital to calm down allergies and keep the body healthy. It’s also been proved useful in the treatment of eczema, bronchitis and asthma. My favourite flavour rooibos tea is coconut and cocoa!
4. Eat Omega 3 rich fish; sardines, tuna, herring, salmon – your body needs the oil for general good health, brain function and it has been reported it helps reduce inflammation of the joints.
5. Eat lots of fresh fruit & vegetables; they contain natural antioxidants & flavonoids that perform antioxidant activities as well as being anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-allergic!
6. Top up your vitamin C; it works with Omega 3 oils and antioxidants to protect cartilage and joints.
7. Eat lots of fresh ginger & turmeric; they are natural anti-inflammatory foods. If you like eating curry, add extra ginger and turmeric! I’ve found a fantastic herbal tea from Pukka tea called ‘three ginger tea’ it contains ginger, turmeric and galangal. Check out Pukka Teas at www.pukkaherbs.com
8. Hyaluronic Acid; you can get it in a powder or tablets. It’s a natural protein the body uses to cushion joints, it is present in synovial fluid which is one of the body’s main lubricating components in joints and it’s responsible for resilience of cartilage! It’s main function in our body is to retain water, keeping our tissues lubricated and moist. There are lots of supplements available that contain hyaluronic acid. Your best bet is to go with a high quality product with no additives that combines hyaluronic acid, collagen and vitamin C.
9. Glucosamine Sulphate; activates special cells in the cartilage to produce more collagen which holds the cartilage together, it also pulls more water into the cartilage giving it flexibility and elasticity needed for function.
10. Chondroitin Sulphate; believed to enhance the shock absorbing qualities of cartilage and blocks enzymes that break cartilage down, it also helps retain water in the cartilage similar to glucosamine sulphate. Infact studies have shown that these two supplements work better taken together than taken individually.
11. MSM; Methylsulfonylmethane is a naturally occurring compound in foods like fresh veg and meat. One of its main benefits is it’s inti-inflammatory action. By helping to reduce inflammation in the body, MSM can help reduce the symptoms of arthritis, allergies, and skin conditions. It has also been shown to help speed up recovery after exercise!
12. Aloe Vera Juice; it’s like rubbing a healing balm inside your body. If you regularly drink a high quality aloe vera juice it has many health benefits including an anti-inflammatory effect on your joints as well as helping boost absorption of nutrients from the intestines.
13. Ice; it’s free! If you have a joint that is swollen and sore, try applying ice for two to five minutes at a time, it helps to reduce the swelling and dulls the pain. Just grab a bag of frozen peas, wrap a tea towel around it and bung it on. Never put ice directly on your skin, it will burn you!
So now you have the information you can keep your joints in tip-top condition this winter – good luck!