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Joint pain can make even the simplest of tasks unbearable. Although we typically categorize joint pain as a condition for older adults, arthritic symptoms are seen in younger ages, too. In fact, an estimated 294,000 children under the age of 18 have some form of arthritis. That's about 1 in every 250 children.
We don't have to wait until old age to start fighting joint pain. The following six simple lifestyle changes can go a long way.
1. Inflammation-Fighting Fats
How do healthy fats heal joint pain? Much of the inflammation that occurs during joint pain is due to active COX-2 enzymes. These enzymes are especially active in people who consume diets high in omega-6 fatty acids. The Journal of Biological Chemistry published a research study that showed omega-3 fatty acids help. When these fatty acids make their way into the membrane of cells in the joints, they help reduce COX-2 activity.
Along with omega-3 fatty acid supplementation, a diet of both vegetable and animal protein can boost omega-3 consumption. Vegetable protein sources, such as beans, nuts, and seeds, as well as cold-water fish are good food sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
A lack of exercise can double one's risk of disability. Research shows that most cases of functional decline could have been reduced significantly with regular physical activity. A personalized workout routine is well-rounded when it includes flexibility, strength, and cardiovascular training.
Season your food with ginger, turmeric, or onions not just for flavor but for fighting. Like omega-3 fatty acids, these foods can fight joint inflammation by reducing COX-2 enzyme activity.
4. Normal Weight
Repeated stress on joints can promote or worsen joint inflammation. Even just an excess of 10 pounds can put unnecessary strain on knee joints, for example. Overweight and obese populations have a greater risk of arthritic conditions. The effects can be reversed and maintained with weight loss via diet and exercise, combined. Even as little as a 15 pound weight loss can improve pain symptoms.
5. Vitamin D
Vitamin D helps protect bone strength and structure. Get adequate amounts from fortified foods and supplements. Food sources include salmon, mackerel, tuna, some yogurts and cheeses, or dairy milks.
6. Whole Foods
This is especially important when it comes to grains. Avoid processed grains. Choose whole grains, such as brown rice, barley, or oats. Whole grains lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), levels of which spike during joint pain. CRP is a marker of inflammation that is associated not only with arthritis but also heart disease, blood pressure, and diabetes.
A research study conducted at Penn State University found that research participants who avoided refined grains and focused on whole grains for 3 months dropped CRP levels by 38% and lost weight.