Aching joints don’t just affect old people. 10 million people in the UK alone suffer from arthritis or other similar joint conditions. Nutritionist Rick Hay reveals 5 ways you can alleviate joint pain the natural way
Are stiff and achy joints causing you pain? Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in the joints. In the UK alone, more than 10 million people have arthritis or other similar conditions that can affect the joints.
But contrary to what most of us think, arthritis isn’t just for older people, it can affect people of all ages, including children – with 15,000 children affected in the UK.
As well as stiff and painful joints, some other common signs of arthritis include, inflammation in and around the joints, restricted movement of the joints, warm red skin over the affected joint as well as weakness and muscle wasting.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis in the UK and it affects nearly 9 million people, often developing in adults who are in their mid 40’s or older. Osteoarthritis affects the smooth cartilage lining of the joint, making movement more difficult and painful than usual.
Osteoarthritis can occur from infection or injury to the joints, as this will cause a natural breakdown of cartilage tissue. Your risk of developing osteoarthritis may also be higher if you have a family history of the disease.
Another common type of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis, affecting more than 400,000 people in the UK, often starting when a person is between 40 and 50 years old.
In rheumatoid arthritis, it is an autoimmune disorder, occurring when your body’s immune system attacks the tissues of the body. This can then spread across the joint, leading to further swelling and a change in the joint’s shape, causing it to look larger than normal.
Painful, aching joints can be caused by a number of issues, so it is important if you have these symptoms to seek advice from a medical professional to ensure you get the correct diagnosis and treatment. If you have a serious illness or are on medication, it is essential to consult with your GP first before making any big changes to your diet and lifestyle.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for arthritis but treatments such as medication and surgery can lessen symptoms. For those though who are looking for a more natural solution though, Nutritional Director Rick Hay is here to help ease your joint worries, with 5 natural ways to reduce your stiff and achy joints.
#1 Take glucosamine and chondroitin supplements
‘If you need relief from aching joints glucosamine and chondroitin are the perfect supplement as they make up the natural structural components of connective tissue,’ explains Hay.
Glucosamine is an amino acid that provides pain relief by helping to cushion our joints. Glucosamine and chondroitin together are structural components of cartilage – the tissue that cushions the joints, so basically they are the building blocks of our connective tissues. (Try BioCare’s Glucosamine Hydrochloride, £21.35)
Glucosamine and chondroitin can prevent the degeneration of joint cartilage, which is why these supplements are used to provide arthritis relief. Both are produced naturally in the body but unfortunately, the body’s ability to produce them reduces with age, which is why supplementation is popular solution.
This well researched combination has been shown help with joint pain and joint cushioning, in those who suffer from arthritic symptoms.
The study included 100 men and women, aged between 50-75 years, with a history of joint pain. Half were given a joint pain supplement containing glucosamine sulfate, the rest a placebo.
During the study, the participants agreed to avoid the use of anti-inflammatory drugs and all other medications and supplements targeted for joint pain.
Results from this randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled community trial found that joint pain severity was significantly reduced in those taking the joint supplement containing glucosamine sulfate compared to those taking placebo. This study supports the use of a dietary supplement in alleviating joint pain severity in middle-aged and older adults
#2 Try fish oil
Fish oil may also help to provide some potential pain relief from stiff or achy joints. ‘Healthy omegas found in fish and algal oil will help to reduce joint inflammation,’ suggests Hay.
Hay also claims that ‘not only will these omegas help with inflammation but will assist with joint lubrication too’. So if you are experiencing achy or stiff joints, fish and algal oil are important for providing you with pain relief, says a meta-analysis study. (Try Biocare’s Vegan Omega 3 capsules, £13.95)
Omega 3 fish oils help to reduce joint inflammation by helping keep the joints lubricated and flexible. In fact, a meta-analysis of 68 studies on Omega-3, concluded that taking Omega-3 supplements could help reduce joint inflammation.
Fish such as salmon, trout, sardines and mackerel are packed full of Omega 3 fatty acids they help to reduce inflammation. In addition to this they are also a good source of nutrients to build a healthy strong bone structure, including vitamin D, magnesium and calcium.
#3 MSM can help too
A natural ingredient called methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), an organic sulphur compound, is also a popular joint health supplement. ‘MSM is a key natural pain reliever and repairer that lowers inflammation and improves flexibility of the joints,’ explains Hay. ‘Promising results with MSM have been reported for pain relief especially in those with arthritis’.
Indeed, a double-blind study looking at the effects of supplementation on osteoarthritis of the knee, saw 49 subjects take 1.125 g of MSM three times daily compared to placebo, for 12 weeks. Results showed a significant improvement in pain and physical function.
‘If you are looking for a joint support supplement, Glucosamine MSM Complex by BioCare, combines glucosamine, MSM and chondroitin to help alleviate joint pain,’ suggests Hay.
MSM is also necessary for collagen production and supports overall collagen health too. This is important for preventing saggy, wrinkled or dry skin. Additionally, collagen is important and needed for your hair as it provides our hair with strength and durability.
#4 Don’t underestimate turmeric and ginger
And there’s yet another way to naturally help relieve aching joints – spices ginger and turmeric may help with both joint pain and can help to reduce joint inflammation. Turmeric is known as a culinary herb and spice, mainly known for its use in Indian curries.
Indeed, turmeric is the new kid on the block and the new magical ingredient with an abundance of health benefits too. ‘It is the compound curcumin found in turmeric that is important for joint health,’ says Hay. Curcumin is what gives turmeric its bright yellow colour.
The importance of turmeric for health has long been known in the ancient medicines of India and China and now more recent scientific studies have shown just how many health benefits turmeric has for the entire body, including being clinically proven to ease joint pain and help to increase flexibility.
‘Turmeric is widely popular due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits that help with arthritis, joint pain and muscle ache. This spice of the moment is an anti inflammatory agent rich in antioxidants known as curcumoids to help with recovery.’ explains Hay.
Indeed, a randomised, double-blind study on 201 patients with osteoarthritis, saw half take a placebo and the other half a 500mg capsules of curcumin to be taken twice daily. After 12 weeks, the patients taking the curcumin dose had significant reductions in their pain, compared to those who were taking the placebo.
#5 And of course don’t forget about vitamin C
Vitamin C’s immune boosting properties are mainly known to help with cold and flu season but vitamin C does so much more in the body.
In fact, regular vitamin C intake helps with both bone and cartilage health, which is necessary when looking to aid aching or stiff joints.
‘Vitamin C contributes to the normal collagen formation for the normal function of bones, skin, teeth, cartilage and blood vessels,’ says Hay.
It also helps the normal function of the immune system during and after intense physical exercise.
Vitamin C is found in many fruits and vegetables. ‘Try upping your intake of berries, cherries, citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, guava, peppers, brussel sprouts, chillies, broccoli, leafy greens, parsley and thyme if you want to top up on this water soluble vitamin,’ suggests Hay.
Rick Hay is a nutritionist with a special interest in anti-ageing and many years clinical experience in nutrition, naturopathy and botanical medicine. He specializes in obesity treatment and weight management. He writes a regular Natural Health and Fitness Blog for Healthista. Find out more at rickhay.co.uk. Follow Rick on Twitter @rickhayuk