Our diet influences a lot of factors and bodily functions. Each and every meal is connected in either preventing or building up a particular disease. Similarly, joint and muscle pain is also a very common problem, especially during winter season. Just like many other health conditions, even these pains can also be managed by making some minor diet changes combined with physical activity. Joints are the connections between bones and they provide major support in helping your overall movement. Any damage caused to the joints from disease or injury can pain a lot and make moving difficult for you.
In fact, even your muscles play a major role in your body. They also allow us to move and perform various important functions in the body. Various health conditions can lead to painful joints, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis, gout and sprains. In such pains, knee pain and shoulder pain are the most common ones. You have to choose the right foods to maintain good bone health and strength. These joint and muscle pains can disturb you even more at old age. Onlymyhealth editorial team spoke to Dietician Arushi Gupta, Associate Dietician, Dayanand Medical College and hospital, Ludhiana, about the foods to eat and avoid for muscle and joint pain relief.
Foods to relieve joint and muscle pain
Cold temperature makes your joint and muscles tighter which makes your movement difficult and painful. You have to keep exercising in these winter days and consume foods that suit your body and provide pain and inflammation relief as well. Along with some sunlight exposure, here are some foods to relief joint and muscle pain:
1. Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds like pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, etc are beneficial for your joint and muscle pain in winters. Even vegetarians can rejoice as Omega 3 fatty acids are found in abundance in nuts and seeds too. These can help in reducing inflammation in the joints and muscles.
2. Dark chocolate
Another food that you should consume but in moderation is dark chocolate. So, dark chocolate can play the role of a mood refresher and is also a rich source of zinc. Chocolate has anti-inflammatory properties and cocoa is the main ingredient in dark chocolate, which also is loaded with antioxidants and can help with inflammation. The higher the amount of cocoa in the chocolate, the higher its anti-inflammatory positive impact. However, you should keep in mind that chocolate has high sugar and fat content, so have a limited amount only.
3. Omega 3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids, which is an essential nutrient specifically found in fish. It is not only beneficial for overall human health but can also ease the symptoms of joint and muscle pain. Omega 3 fatty acids help in reducing inflammation and also improve brain function as well. Calcium and Vitamin D are important nutrients for good bone health. But, having omega-3 through fish oil can also help in improving your bone density. This nutrient is found in fish such as tuna, salmon, trout, halibut and sardines. Taking a fish oil supplement is also another way to to consume Omega-3.
4. Cruciferous vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, etc. These vegetables are also recommended for joint and muscle pain relief. These veggies are good for consumption, especially in the winter season. Along with other nutritious veggies, you should eat these cruciferous vegetables everyday. These are packed with vitamins and antioxidants. This helps in blocking the enzyme that causes joint pain and inflammation.
5. Whole grain
Many researches say that the proteins present in refined grains like white bread and white rice may also trigger an inflammatory response in the body. But, high-fiber whole grains help in producing fatty acids that are good to handle inflammation, so you should have this food. Anyone who is already suffering from joint and muscle pain is also advised to have foods such as whole wheat, whole oats, barley and rye.
6. Olive oil
Instead of using vegetable or sunflower oil, you should use olive oil, particularly during winter season as the other oils contribute towards inflammation. Just put a few tablespoons of olive oil for cooking and making salad dressings. It is also a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids and can help with the signs of joint and muscle pain.
7. Green tea
Green tea is consumed all over the world and it offers a wide range of health benefits including joint and muscle pain relief. The hot herbal tea is beneficial for many bodily functions. Green tea also has anti-inflammatory properties that help in reducing pain and imflammation. You can take organic green tea for better effect.
Foods to avoid muscle and joint pain
Just like you have to eat some foods, there are a number of items you should avoid too. One has to make some lifestyle and diet routine changes to cope up or prevent certain diseases. Taking foods that trigger inflammation and pain can be very harmful for you. According to Dt. Arushi, here are the foods to avoid muscle and joint pain:
Consumption of alcohol can also become a factor behind making your bones and muscles weak. Excess alcohol intake can lower the levels of calcium absorption in the body. Having alcohol regularly reduces the calcium present in the bones, resulting in making them weaker day by day. So, try avoiding the consumption of alcohol for stronger joints and muscles and to prevent inflammation.
Drinking too much caffeinated drinks such as colas, coffees and teas can also increase loss of calcium in the urine. Some studies link caffeine consumption with reduced bone mass and pain in joints and muscles. Moreover, coffee may also increase inflammation in some people.
Sugar is also a toxic food and is also manufactured with additives and artificial ingredients. The consumption of so many calories and sugars is not healthy for us. It can lead to inflammation and many other health problems in the body like diabetes, high blood pressure, fatty liver and risk of heart attack. You should avoid cola drinks and chocolates. So, it is suggested to cut on sugar intake in winters, especially if you are already having muscle and joint pain.
4. Excess salt
Experts also say that consuming too much salt can reduce the bone density and make your muscles and joint pain, especially if you are already suffering from a problem. As the sodium levels increase in your body, it starts releasing more calcium through urine and disturbs the balance of other minerals. So, it can result in dehydration and trigger joint pain too.
5. Red meat
Eat less red meat and the products of saturated animal fats. Consuming too much red meat can cause build-up of arachidonic acid which is inflammatory and can increase your joint pain. Therefore, avoid this food to stay pain free.
6. Fast food
Many patients with joint and muscle pain are also advised to avoid fatty foods, oily foods or heavy diets or fast food, as they lead to difficulty in sleeping and relaxing, further resulting in a trigger of joint pain symptoms. A proper balanced and nutritious diet is important for recovery of the brain cells and muscles in the body. Fast foods contain a lot of calories, fats and sugar. Therefore, having home cooked meals in winters is highly recommended. Consuming a lot of fast food items like burgers, pizzas and soft drinks is not beneficial for your health.
7. Processed food
Processed food includes namkeens, cookies, potato chips, biscuits, rusk, refined flour, etc should be avoided if you are already experiencing joint and muscle pain because they don't have any nutritional quality. Processed foods contain heavy amounts of sugar and salt that can cause joint pains. It is specifically not advised to consume these food items in the morning. You should have healthy alternatives such as fruits, salad, nuts, milk, oats, sandwiches, muesli, eggs, etc.
So, these were the foods to avoid and consume for joint and muscle pain relief during winter season. You can incorporate some and eliminate some food items from your diet. Diet changes will make the existing condition better and also prevent any other joint or muscle pains in the future. Combine exercise with some diet moderations and have joint and muscle pain free winters!
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