Nutrition and Joint/Bone Health: The Secret Is There Is No Secret

What’s the secret to feeling younger and healthier?

Eat right and exercise.

Yes, it sounds obvious, and you’ve heard it all your life and for good reason. But it can be a little more complicated than that. What should we eat? How should we exercise?

Because March has been designated National Nutrition Month, we thought we’d take a look at how what we eat can affect our bones and joints. We’ve talked before about how just minor weight loss can take pressure off our joints, but there are other benefits to good eating as well.

For example, joint discomfort is commonly caused by inflammation; this can be reduced by eating foods high in Omega-3 and vitamin D. These would include fatty fish, walnuts, flax seeds and canola oil.

 

Eat Right for Joint Health

Nutritionists recommend including many of these foods into your diet for overall health. As an additional benefit, many of these foods have antioxidant power beyond joint health:

  • Ginger
  • Butternut squash
  • Sweet peppers
  • Citrus fruits
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Mushrooms
  • Kiwi
  • Pineapple
  • Papaya
  • Brazil nuts
  • Onions
  • Leeks
  • Cherries
  • Green tea

Just as it’s important to eat food that’s good for you, it’s just as important to avoid foods that might be contributing to pain in your joints (and other places). Again, amazingly, these are very similar to the list of nutritional recommendations health professionals have identified for overall health.

Avoid:

  • Fried food
  • Alcohol
  • Sugar
  • Fast food
  • Soda
  • Food containing trans-saturated fats

Nutrition That’s Good for Your Bones

Yes, eating right can contribute to joint health; but it’s also good for your bones. We know that as we get older, we frequently experience more aches and pains — but do you know why? Like any other part of the body, bones are living tissues, constantly breaking down and remodeling themselves. And as we age, our bodies struggle with that reparative process. So good nutrition is also important for our entire skeleton, providing another tool for the body to repair and stay healthy.

You likely know that calcium is good for our bones, but how do we get enough? It’s simple: Eat a well-balanced diet of whole fresh foods and combine that with regular exercise (sorry – no magic formulas!).

Living by Example

GBO Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr. Christopher Dolan and his wife, Carolyn (a physical therapist and holistic health coach), have implemented healthy eating habits for their entire family, avoiding grains, dairy and sugar and focusing on vegetables, fruits and meat. “We follow the ‘whole foods’ diet, which simply means eating real food instead of processed food,” Dr. Dolan explained.

Dr. Dolan says their journey to better health started in 2012 when Carolyn, dissatisfied with her health (chronic sinus infections, chronic fatigue, chronic depression, anxiety and weight gain), began researching solutions based on proper nutrition and exercise. Though it may sound simple, she says that switching to a diet of nutrient-rich foods, while avoiding inflammatory foods, changed her life. When she started seeing improvements in herself, she put her husband and children on the same plan. She shares her experience in a book “Soar Into Health,” and website, www.renosoar.com.  

Dr. Dolan uses Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady as another example of how eating well can help you avoid injury and feel younger. “At nearly 40 years old, he’s playing the best of his life. And he attributes much of that to his focus on natural healing and a diet that contains no dairy, white sugar or white flour.”

So what’s the bottom line? Avoiding processed food and focusing on whole foods can be the solution to not only better bone and joint health, but also feeling younger overall. After all, it works for Tom Brady — and the Dolans!