Whole Foods for Happy Knees
By Juliana Sun & Alisa
The ability to move around pain-free is central to our enjoyment of life. By steering clear of the following foods that may cause joint inflammation and pain, you can help keep your joints healthy and strong.
Foods to Avoid If You Have Knee Pain
Eating too much salty food can lead to an inflammatory reaction in the body. Excess salt can also cause your cells to retain water, which can result in swelling. Reducing salty food in your diet may reduce calcium loss from your bones, which can mitigate the risk of osteoporosis and fracture.
Foods that can induce gout
Gout is a painful form of arthritis that occurs when high levels of uric acid in the blood cause crystals to form and accumulate in and around a joint. Dietary choices such as high intake of organ meats, shellfishand alcohol can raise your risk. Tomatoes were found to be the fourth most commonly mentioned trigger, after red meat, seafood and alcohol.
Casein is a protein found mostly in dairy products with moderate-to-high protein content such as milk, yogurt, cheese, and ice cream. For some people, this type of protein may irritate the tissue around the joints, trigger inflammation and thereby cause joint pain.
Fried and processed foods
Fried and processed foods are high in trans fat and low in omega-3 fatty acids. Studies have shown that trans fat triggers systemic inflammation, thereby worsening joint pain. Processed foods such as cookies, chips and other very nutrient-poor snacks can be high in unhealthy fats. Be sure to read labels carefully and strictly avoid foods that contain partially hydrogenated oils.
Overconsumption of sugar
Sugar is a major factor in weight gain. An increase in weight puts extra pressure on the joints and leads to joint pain. Research also shows that the consumption of foods high in sugar contributes to the joint pain and stiffness often experienced with aging because of a process called glycation.
Glycation occurs when sugar bonds with proteins to form compounds called advanced glycation end products, or AGEs. These compounds damage cells in the body by speeding up the oxidative process and changing normal cell behavior.
AGEs are thought to be a major factor in aging as well as contributing to many age-related chronic diseases. Studies have shown that accumulation of AGEs in joint tissues causes changes in articular cartilage, making the cartilage more susceptible to damage and the development of osteoarthritis.
Eat Whole Unprocessed Foods
As the old saying goes, you are what you eat. A varied whole-food diet helps to control weight and provides all the nutrients needed for maintaining good health and warding off pain and deterioration.
Avoid empty calories and free sugars, and monitor salt intake
The World Health Organization recommends limiting the intake of free sugars to less than 10 percent of total energy intake. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition cautions consumers that processed sugars lead to the release of inflammatory messengers.
When making food choices, be sure to keep an eye out for sugar in all of its many forms. Hint: Watch out for ingredients ending in “ose,” such as fructose and sucrose, which may be hiding in your food. In addition, pay attention to what you are drinking — many beverages are full of sugar.
An adult’s daily intake of salt should be less than 2,000 milligrams, which is about one teaspoon. Sodium must be balanced with potassium. An adult should ingest a minimum of 4,700 milligrams of potassium a day.
Eat more vegetables
Green vegetables such as broccoli, kale, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, and Swiss chard are packed with antioxidants such as vitamins C and K and beta-carotene, which protect cells from free-radical damage. These foods are also high in bone-preserving calcium, and lower inflammation. Steam your vegetables instead of boiling them to preserve their array of nutrients.
Your knees deserve your utmost care and concern. Relieving chronic pain may be as simple as avoiding inflammatory foods that contribute to knee pain and eating a broader range of nutrient-dense whole foods.