I’m sure you all could agree that to fully appreciate all of the joys that life has to offer, it helps to feel good and be able to move comfortably, right? Healthy joints that are comfortable and flexible are a big part of enjoying the fun stuff of which memories are made! So what about when stiff, achey joints start to interfere with your fun-ablity? Here are 6 basic lifestyle strategies can you use to promote healthy and flexible joints throughout your life:
1) Get Acupuncture treatments! Acupuncture is extremely effective at alleviating the pain, swelling, inflammation, and stiffness in the fingers, elbows, knees, feet, wrists, shoulders, hips and spine that typically accompany all types of arthritis, sports injuries and chronic pain. The best part is that it’s a totally natural, relatively painless therapy for joint pain with no adverse side effects that addresses and corrects the root-cause of the pain, not just the symptoms, and can be used to get off all those pain meds and restore your active lifestyle.
2) Exercise. It’s an urban myth that exercise is bad for your joints. Vigorous, low-impact exercise is actually very beneficial for your joints, as well as for cardiovascular, pulmonary, and other systems in your body. It’s simply a myth that you can ‘wear down’ your knees just from average levels of exercise or normal activity. In fact, its actually inactivity that causes your muscles to become weaker and actually works against optimal joint flexibility and comfort.One caution when using this valuable tool is that you need to start slowly if you have not been exercising regularly, and build up to higher activity levels. Otherwise, you risk incurring an injury that could really set you back. Also, if typical vigorous exercise is not easy for you, try walking, swimming, Tai Chi and Yoga as awesome additions to a healthy exercise routine. Not only are they very low impact, they are also excellent for supporting good joint health, flexibility, mind-body connection, stress-relief and offer many other health benefits.
3) Achieve your optimal weight. This will help you really improve your bio-mechanic function! One of the greatest benefits of a regular exercise routine is its ability to help you achieve and maintain your ideal weight which is highly beneficial to your joints. Overweight and obese people compromise joint comfort more than those who are carrying their ideal load. Think about it: each additional pound of body mass increases the compressive load over your knees by roughly 4 pounds- it adds up…Research shows that a weight loss of as little as 11 pounds can have a positive effect on joint function. So it’s a positive feedback loop: losing weight reduces the load on your joints and makes it easier to exercise, and exercising helps you lose weight and supports your joint health!
4) Eat a high quality diet. Eliminate sugar and starchy carbs from your diet- seriously, I can’t emphasize this one enough. And definitely stop drinking soda! (Not sure why? Check out Why Soft Drinks Are Hazardous To Your Health) These foods do absolutely nothing to support healthy joints or a healthy body, in fact, their potential for system-wide inflammatory damage is well documented.
So what are some general dietary guidelines to maximize and optimize your overall health and well-being?
- Eat whole, natural foods (this means preservative-free, not processed stuff you could find in nature)
- Eat naturally-raised, grass-fed, hormone-free meats including fish, seafood, poultry, beef, lamb, game, organ meats and eggs. If possible, get them from local sources such as your local farmers market.
- Use only traditional fats and oils such as real butter and other animal fats (NOT margarine or shortening), extra virgin olive oil, Virgin Coconut oil, and expeller-pressed flax oil.
- Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, preferably organic, local and in-season.
- Use filtered water for cooking and drinking.
- Use unrefined and natural salts, such as Celtic or Himalayan sea salt instead of refined, white table salt. Why? Check out The Truth About Salt.
- Don’t use refined sugars or artificial sweeteners. Instead, use natural sweeteners in moderation, such as raw honey, maple syrup, agave nectar and stevia.
- Use only natural supplements from whole-food sources. Avoid or reduce the amounts of medications you take by choosing a healthy lifestyle and utilizing natural therapies such as Acupuncture to get off all those meds!
5) Optimize your vitamin D levels. Vitamin D also supports a healthy immune response. Age-old theories about the role of sunlight in causing skin cancers are being called into question now. The use of sunscreens and UV avoidance has led to a massive country-wide deficiency in Vitamin D- which, interestingly enough, is now being connected to an increase in cancer rates! If you’re deficient in Vit D, which most people are, you lose the support this vitamin offers for your joints and your entire body system. Check out More Vitamin D Can Prevent Cancer for more information.
6) Get plenty of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3’s are essential fatty acids that are considered crucial for normal growth and development. They reduce inflammation to support your joint health as well as promote healthy cognitive function, mood balancing, Heart health, and immune function. These EFA’s cannot be manufactured by the body and must be obtained from your diet. The best sources are Krill Oil or a high quality fish oil, but you can also get them from eating raw nuts and seeds.
This information brought to you by your friendly neighborhood Austin Acupuncturist, Melanie Irvine, L.Ac., MAOM, owner Turning Point Wellness. For more info about how Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine, and natural nutrition can help you achieve vibrant health and well-being. Feel free to visit my website, www.TurningPointAcupuncture.net for more details and direct contact information.
Mercola.com, “New Breakthrough for Joint Discomfort,” http://products.mercola.com/joint-support/?source=nl