There are 208 bones in the human body and 143 joints. If any of these weaken, your body mechanics can be thrown out of balance, affecting your overall physical health. For this reason, it is important that we pay as much attention to our bone health as we do to the rest of our health.
Most bone problems are a result of improper joint mechanics. Like a car part that’s not installed correctly, the spine will wear out much faster if all the parts are not properly connected. It’s the same thing with our joints. Unlike a car, though, we can’t replace our parts!! So, it’s all about prevention, maintaining and achieving optimal function of the spine and joints.
Osteoarthritis is a condition in which low grade inflammation results in pain in the joints caused by the wear and tear of the cartilage that covers and cushions the joints. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. Basically, it is the wear and tear on the spine and joints caused, in most cases, by overuse or improper joint mechanics. There are other types of arthritis (some are caused by auto-immune disorders) but osteoarthritis is the most common.
Osteoporosis on the other hand is a generalized disorder of skeletal bones in which the quantity and the quality of the bone tissue is decreased and the bone becomes weak and more susceptible to breaking. Osteoporosis is particularly problematic for women once they start menopause. Post-menopausal women have reduced levels of the hormone estrogen, which accelerates the leaching of calcium from bones.
Hormone replacement therapy, which was popular until a few years ago, was shown to indeed reduce bone loss but, unfortunately, it also increased the risks of breast cancer, blood clots, heart attacks and strokes. In the case of osteoporosis, we’re talking about the density of your bones. As an example, I tell my patients to think about putting a healthy bone,and one with osteoporosis,in a tank of water. The healthy bone would sink to the bottom because it’s dense while the osteoporotic bone would float, because it is less dense (more porous).
Is Inflammation to Blame?
In recent years, experts have linked bone and joint problems to inflammation in the body. While inflammation is to blame for many illness and diseases, in the case of bone and joint problems it is what causes pain, swelling, red colouration to the area, and sometimes loss of movement or function. While many anti-inflammatory drugs promise to reduce pain and improve function, long term use of some anti-inflammatory medications can actually weaken our immune system and cause an array of unwanted side effects.
But don’t worry. Nature has provided us with many anti-inflammatory foods that can help subdue inflammation and provide you with the nutrients and vitamins you need to feel great.
The Top Eight Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Inflammation is the cause of many diseases and illnesses, including osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. In adding some or all of the food below to your diet you are able to reduce some of the inflammation in your body, naturally! Bon Appetit!
1) Wild Caught Salmon
Salmon is an excellent source of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), two potent omega-3 fatty acids that douse inflammation. Multiple studies have demonstrated that Omega-3 fatty acids can be used for prevention of heart disease and the reduction of symptoms of autoimmune diseases and psychological disorders. Try to include an oily fish like Alaskan Salmon in your diet, at least two times per week. Don’t like fish? A high-quality Omega 3 supplement (like Metagenics’ EPA-DHA 720) will do the trick.
2) Green Tea
The flavonoids in Green tea are potent inflammatory fighting compounds that have been shown in numerous studies to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancers. Opt for a high quality organic loose-leaf green tea, as tea bags often prevent full infusion and nutrient release.
Spinach made Popeye strong, and it’ll make you strong too! The amount of anti-inflammatory properties in spinach is almost too good to be true. Spinach contains Vitamin A, B2, B6, C, E, K, calcium, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium and tryptophan and that’s not all! Add organic spinach to your diet to reduce inflammation.
Berries provide us with phytonutrients that bestow anti-inflammatory protection against many diseases. Due to their small size it is often difficult to wash away pesticides, so opt for organic berries if possible.
Turmeric is an Asian spice commonly found in pre-mixed curry powder that contains a powerful, non-toxic compound called curcumin. Several studies have found that turmeric’s anti-inflammatory effects are comparable to those of potent drugs such as hydrocortisone and Motrin. Add turmeric to your cooking or make turmeric tea by simmering a teaspoon of the powder in about four cups of boiling water for 10 minutes. Strain the tea and enjoy.
Kelp contains fucoidan, a type of complex carbohydrate that is anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and anti-oxidative. A few studies on fucoidan in recent years have found promising results in using the brown algae extract to control liver and lung cancer and to promote collagen synthesis.
This tropical fruit is known to reduce inflammation and improve digestion. Papayas contain vitamin C, vitamin E, and papain, a protein-digesting enzyme.
8) Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes are delicious and nutritious alternatives to regular starchy potatoes. They provide our bodies with beta-carotene, manganese, vitamin B6 and C as well as dietary fiber. Such nutrients are powerful antioxidants that help to heal inflammation in the body.
Let’s recap. Bone and joint problems like osteoarthritis are caused by inflammation in the body. The food you eat can either help or hinder your body’s fight against inflammation, therefore they can benefit of deteriorate bone health. To help your body win the battle, increase the amount of foods listed above and decrease or eliminate the listed foods below:
–Nightshade Vegetables (eggplants – tomatoes –peppers and black pepper)
–Gluten (a lot of people are sensitive to gluten and are unaware of it)
Don’t underestimate the power of food to help you with inflammation. Bonne-appétît!
Dr. Nathalie Beauchamp has been living the wellness lifestyle since her teenage years while involved in a multitude of different sports. Fitness and a healthy lifestyle have been at the core of every personal and professional milestone she has achieved so far.
Born in Montebello, Quebec, her professional expertise in the area of fitness, nutrition, lifestyle and wellness began in 1996 when she graduated from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in Toronto as a Doctor of Chiropractic. She has a Bachelor of Science Degree in the field of Human Kinetics from the University of Ottawa, and she is also a certified personal fitness trainer, a professional natural bodybuilder, a wellness consultant and lecturer, television personality and motivational speaker.