These colder days can keep us hibernating indoors—and our joints pay the price from the lack of movement. Whether you suffer from painful swelling or know someone who does, the main pain culprit is inflammation.
Inflammation and Arthritis
Inflammation is the body’s response to a harmful substance, such as a pathogen, damaged cell, or irritant in the body. In acute inflammation, a cut or wound triggers the body’s inflammatory response to heal by clotting the blood. This may also include swelling and redness, which eventually disappears. However, with chronic or prolonged inflammation such as arthritis, the body is in a constant state of simultaneous healing and cell destruction. As a result, chronic disease may ensue. In the case of arthritis, the body may endure constant pain, redness, and swelling. Depending on the type of arthritis, you may be able to minimize inflammation with appropriate dietary and lifestyle modifications.
1. Keep Moving
Even though outdoor fun may be out of the picture, you should still find ways to maintain your range of motion and keep the joints moving to stay out of pain. A gentle tai chi practice or a swim at an indoor pool are great exercise practices that are easy on the joints. Hatha yoga, a dance class or simply working out at the gym are other ways to get physical.
2. Eat More Omegas
Omega-3 essential fatty acids continue to make headline health news. Since our bodies can’t manufacture these fatty acids, we must obtain these essential nutrients from dietary sources in the form of DHA and EPA found in oily fish, walnuts, chia, hemp, and flax seeds. In addition to reducing risk for cardiovascular disease and circulatory conditions, these fatty acids contain anti-inflammatory properties that may be helpful in alleviating arthritic pain. Make sure to include these foods in your diet often to help disrupt the cells that trigger inflammation.
3. Tame the Pain with Turmeric
Turmeric, the herb that gives curry its color, has been under the nutrition and health spotlight recently for its renowned anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric’s active component curcumin, is a compound known to interfere with the chemicals that cause inflammation. Multiple clinical studies have associated curcumin with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. In one study, 2 grams of curcumin extract provided to subjects was found to provide pain relief that was equivalent to ibuprofen for pain associated with osteoarthritis of the knee. Sprinkle turmeric or curry spice in your favorite dishes to help reduce inflammation.
4. Ginger for Joints
This pungent root has been associated with relieving inflammation, which may be good news for your arthritis. Ginger is a versatile spice that will enhance many recipes: grate fresh ginger into your stir fry, bake into a cake, make into tea or try the smoothie that follows.
Tumeric & Ginger Smoothie
Blend the ingredients below together for a powerful anti-inflammatory smoothie!
1/2 tsp turmeric
a small knob of ginger
1 cup raw baby spinach
1 cup strawberries
1 cup water
Take caution: Before taking any supplement, it is important to consult with your physician first. Turmeric and ginger may increase blood clotting so those individuals taking blood-thinning medications should be cautious. Turmeric may also cause changes in blood sugar levels for those with diabetes.