Joints are what give us the ability to move, bend, and twist in all the intricate and agile ways our bodies are capable of. Climbing, jumping, rowing, dancing, and jogging would not be possible without joints.
When the joints are damaged or inflamed, every movement is filled with pain and restriction. The discomfort can be caused by many things including sprains, strains, rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis, gout, osteoarthritis, or simple widespread inflammation.
Joint and arthritis pain is a hidden epidemic, affecting a whopping third of the population. As we age, immobility and pain only increases and affects our quality of life. This is why it’s so important to be proactive and diligent the moment you notice any discomfort.
Best results will be achieved by never letting a problem present itself, which is why we created this superfoods guide to healthy joints.
Continue reading to see our recommended fruit and vegetable supplements, Super Greens, and green supplements for joint health.
Best Superfood Supplements for Joint Health
The joints are comprised of type 1 and type 2 collagen, with type 1 being the most abundant protein in the body. Type 1 is the strongest type of collagen and helps form our bones, skin, tendons, blood vessel walls, cornea, and other connective tissues.
Type 2 collagen is the main collagen found in cartilage. It’s a connective tissue the protects the ends of long bones where a joint is formed. Additionally, it is a structural component of the nose, ear, rib cage, bronchial tube, and more.
Type 3 collagen is a major component of our skin and organs and is considered fibrillar collagen. This type of collagen can often be found in the same places as type 1 collagen.
Type 4 collagen is a minor collagen component and forms interstitial collagen fibers, alongside type 1 collagen. It plays an important role in regulating collagen fiber development of connective tissue. It also functions to create the cells that in the placenta of a pregnant woman, and helps form hair and cell surfaces.
Type 5 collagen, which can be found in eggshell membrane, is found in normal, healthy joint cartilage. It is considered to be collagen that helps form networks.
When reading collagen supplement labels, you will often see multiple types of collagen in the ingredient list. Wild Foods grass-fed, bovine collagen, is a Superfoods powder that has Type 1 and Type 3 collagen.
High-quality fish oils contain abundant amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids. To say Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential component of human health is an understatement. They play a vital role in cell membranes throughout the body and affect cell receptors and their functionality. They are also highly anti-inflammatory, protecting the joints, spine, and bone structure of the body.
Essential Fatty Acid Superfoods for Health
- EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)
- DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
- DPA (docosapentaenoic acid)
The goal of fish oil super products is to balance the omega-3 to the omega-6 ratio. The typical American diet is very high in Omega-6 fatty acids and rather low in Omega-3 fatty acids. We want the balance to be a 1:1 ratio.
Fish oils help to improve the immune system by reducing inflammation, while simultaneously improving blood chemistry. Specifically, DHA-rich fish oil can enhance the activity of B cells, which are the white blood cells that are important to the immune system and antibody production.
Wild Fish Oil is a superior-tasting, burp-less, non-fishy blend of omega-3s in the form of DHA, EPA, and the rarer, not typically found in fish oils, DPA. It is caught in U.S. waters and processed in U.S. fisheries and one of the only in the world that is Friends of the Sea certified!
Related: The Wild Foods Guide to Fish Oil
Turmeric contains bioactive constituents that have powerful medicinal properties. It has been used for thousands of years as a food spice and medicinal herb.
Turmeric used solely as a spice has about 3% curcumin content by weight.
Curcumin is one of the main medicinal components in turmeric that make it such a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. Supplementation is key to intake more concentrated doses.
Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory response is so powerful it has shown to match some of the main anti-inflammatory drugs on the market (without side effects). Curcumin fights inflammation on a molecular level by blocking the anti-inflammatory signaling molecule known as NF-kB.
Unfortunately, the absorption of curcumin in the bloodstream is very poor without the combination of piperine. Piperine is a natural substance found in black pepper that increases the absorption of curcumin by 2,000%!
That’s why our Wild Turmeric Caps are combined with black pepper extract: to provide the most potent, beneficial, anti-inflammatory product for your health.
Bone broth is typically something you see made from bones and comes in liquid form and is also known as “cooking stock.” The stock that can be purchased at the store, while increasing in quality, often lacks in flavor compared to homemade bone broth. Homemade bone broth, however, can be time-consuming.
That is why you see bone broth protein, in the form of powder, on the market as of late. It can be used as a superfood powder for smoothies, shakes, or other unique recipes. (Check out our Wild Recipes section below for some ideas).
Bone broth itself is packed with nutrition. From vitamins calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, to chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine, and collagen, bone broth protein is loaded with nutrients and powerful healing properties.
One of the most valuable components of bone broth is the gelatin content, which breaks down into collagen in the body. Gelatin behaves like a cushion between bones that helps them slide without friction. Gelatin also provides us with the building blocks we need to form and maintain strong, agile bones.
Real Foods for Joint Health:
All peppers are rich in vitamin C, but red peppers are especially potent with the vitamin. Vitamin C aids the body in collagen production, which supports healthy joints, and cushions their movements. Vitamin C has also known to reduce pain and prevents iron deficiency, which is needed for strong, robust bones.
Like fish oil, fatty fish is high in omega-3 content, which is a potent anti-inflammatory agent and helps nourish and protect the joints, as well as the rest of the body. Be sure to consume fish with low mercury levels, like sardines. Other nutrient-dense fish, like salmon, should be consumed 1-2 times a week.
Many who experience joint pain suffer with arthritis. Arthritis is characterized by joint pain and immobility due to inflammation. The polyphenols found in coconut oil suggest it may be able to alleviate symptoms of arthritis. One study found that treatment with the polyphenols found in coconut oil helped reduce swelling and multiple inflammatory markers.
Garlic, onion, and leeks contain a powerful sulfur compound that helps fight inflammation and reduces pain. Additionally, onions are one of the richest sources of flavonoids, which fight free radicals and reduce inflammation in the body, including the joints. The nice thing about both of these foods is that many of us use them in cooking for their flavor benefits.
Apples contain a compound called quercetin, which helps build collagen, the main structural component of cartilage. Quercetin is a flavonoid that functions as an antioxidant in the body and fights free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that cause cellular damage if left unchecked. Quercetin also has strong anti-inflammatory properties and has shown to reduce morning stiffness and pain in rheumatoid arthritis patients.
The active chemical in turmeric, curcumin, blocks specific enzymes and cytokines that lead to inflammation in the body. In cooking, turmeric is used as a spice and can be added to a significant amount of dishes to add flavor and health benefits. Turmeric’s bioavailability is increased when used with piperine (a compound found in black pepper), so we recommend adding it to your dish as well.
Wild Turmeric is an organic superfoods powder that can be added to dishes, soups, smoothies, and shakes.
Foods to Avoid for Joint Health:
One of the primary reasons dairy should be avoided for those that suffer from joint pain is that it’s highly insulinogenic, especially compared to other carbohydrate sources. When large amounts of insulin are released in the body to uptake sugar, a hormonal cascade follows that usually leads to increased inflammatory response.
Additionally, commercially raised dairy is devoid of many of the benefits of raw dairy, is exceptionally high in sugar, and contains lactose and casein, which is not tolerated by a large amount of the population.
A recent study has shown a link between coffee intake and rheumatoid arthritis in women. “Decaffeinated coffee intake is independently and positively associated with RA onset, while tea consumption shows an inverse association with disease onset.”
Until further studies can be done to verify these findings, a tea alternative may be a better option for you if you suffer from joint pain. Fortunately, at Wild Foods we have a pretty awesome tea line-up with favorites such as Thai G, Coconut Chai, and green superfood Matcha.
Trans-fat/Poor Quality Vegetable Oils
A recent study has linked canola oil to worsened memory and learning abilities in Alzheimers patients. Inflammation of the brain is thought to be a chief mechanism to the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s. Inflammation in the body is typically widespread and will affect multiple mechanisms of movement and functionality.
Poor quality vegetable oils, such as canola oil or grape-seed oil, are abundant with omega-6 fatty acids and low, or devoid of omega-3 fatty acids. A healthy balance between the two is at a 1:1 ratio, but over the past century or so, American’s intake has shifted to a 20:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. Highly unbalanced, but we don’t need to tell you that.
Most soy and corn are allergens, genetically modified, and cause inflammation and other problems. Processed foods, in general, are full of synthetic salt, sugar, trans fat, and other cell-damaging free radicals. Most of them also contain pesticides and chemicals like phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA), and other synthetic compounds linked to weight gain, cancers, behavioral changes, and other illnesses.
Soy, corn and all processed foods are also highly inflammatory. They are devoid of nutrition and are often just “empty” calories. Prolonged use of them leads to increased food sensitivities, allergens, and chemical sensitivities and often contributes to auto-immune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Lifestyle modifications to improve joints
Lifestyle factors usually play a key role in the health of your joints. You can eat all the broccoli and salmon you want, but if your body is being abused in other ways, it’s going to show.
Weight, activity levels, stress, and diet are all contributors to poor joint health, and, fortunately, are all things we can control to make a powerful change. Here are some lifestyle modifications you can make to ensure your joints are in tip-top shape.
Get Some Sun
A 30-minute session of direct sunlight a day will provide all the vitamin D your body needs to function optimally. When the sun hits the skin, it reacts with vitamin K to create vitamin D, which is essential in absorbing calcium. Over 40% of Americans are deficient in vitamin D these days, it’s no wonder so many people suffer from joint pain.
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient needed to fight inflammation, aid in nerve communication, and muscle contraction. Vitamin D deficiencies are common in people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis.
When you carry extra weight on your body, it creates excess work for the bones and compresses the joints and cartilage, limiting the ability to keep the joints lubricated and mobile. Incorporating a daily walk into your day to increase vitamin D levels will also lead to a reduction in body weight if you are living a sedentary life.
When movement becomes painful, it’s easy to stop being active, but that only compounds the problems and creates a cascade of additional issues. Even moderate levels of activity will create more fluid joints and less pain than being less active, or not active at all.
Joints require activity to be healthy. Tendons and ligaments need movement to get nutrients and oxygen. Without activity, muscles, tendons, and ligaments deteriorate and cause pain.
Move your body more frequently by going on walks, riding a bike, swimming, or doing yoga. All of these are low-impact forms of movement that will improve joint health without causing pain.
Water is an important indirect modality to keep joints healthy. Without being properly hydrated, blood volume can reduce, making the flow of nutrients halt or slow down.
Drink plenty of water a day. You should be drinking half your body weight in water, plus an additional ounce for every ounce of caffeinated beverages you have. So if you weigh 150lbs, you should drink 75 ounces of water a day. If you have an 8-ounce cup of coffee, you should be drinking 83 total ounces of water a day instead.