Six Steps to Healthy Joints
We will all grow older, but it doesn’t have to be a slow, painful deterioration into misery. Getting older is not the problem; the aging of the body tissues is. Practicing habits that reduce the effects of aging is the key to having healthy joints. In essence, the way we protect our joints reflects the way we protect the rest of our body from the ravages of aging:
- Activity: Use it or lose it. Some of the symptoms we consider to be the result of aging are really just a loss of flexibility in the joints due to disuse or improper use over time. Activity not only moves the joints, works the muscles and pumps fluids in and out of the joints, but it also gets the lymphatic system moving, which is our waste removal system.
- Adequate Nutrients: This involves both avoiding the foods that create inflammation, namely processed foods, sugar, most grains and most dairy, and also adding the foods that promote repair and regeneration. Fruits and vegetables are high in the vitamins, minerals and other phytonutrients needed to regenerate cells, plus they contain antioxidants, the molecules that protect our cells from damage. The ligaments that hold the joints together need an abundant supply of complete proteins to heal and repair and a balance of fats, especially the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats, which are essential to joint health.
- Stress Reduction: The stress of overuse on joints can be very damaging. We may be overusing our joints and causing damage if we are involved in regular activity that causes soreness or abnormal muscle tension and we don’t allow time for recovery nor practice regular stretching exercises. Stress hormones like cortisol, when circulating long-term, are also very damaging to joints.
- Lubrication: The body’s main lubricant is water. In fact, the majority of body tissues are full of water. Without proper hydration, it is difficult to ensure joint health. The general rule is that we need one half-ounce of water per pound of body weight per day. So if we weigh 150 pounds, we need 75 ounces of water per day. A tip is to measure it out daily in the beginning in order to get used to the amount.
- Removing Toxins: Reducing exposure to environmental toxins often found in non-organic foods, skincare and household products and helping the body remove toxins reduces the amount of inflammation and deterioration of joints, otherwise known as arthritis. The liver is the main organ that helps with toxin elimination, so supporting it and aiding detoxification is paramount.
- Proper Alignment and Balance: When joints are not aligned, they don’t move properly and develop degenerative problems, aka wear and tear. Getting alignment checks periodically by a trained professional is well worth the time and expense in order to continue enjoying physical activities.
It is essential to address both the structural and metabolic components of joint health in order to be able to enjoy the quality of life one desires. Making the effort to take care of your body now will pay off later.
Dr. Christine Thompson holds a Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Life University, and has been practicing in downtown Fredericksburg since 1996. For more information, visit Whole Health Solutions at Whole-Health.net.