4 Top Lifestyle & Nutrition Tips For Bone & Joint Health

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By Laurann O’Reilly

Many of us will experience  bone or joint related issues at some stage of our lives. Be it when we’re children exploring the world,  accidents, injuries, wear and tear. Whilst many of us can recover fully from these, others are left with a weakness or vulnerabilities which continue to give us issues. For this reason, it’s important to be kind to our bodies and support them in every way we can through practical strategies, movement and nutrition.

 

Here Laurann O’Reilly, a qualified nutritionist and owner of Nutrition by Laurann provides us with some practical advice and nutrition tips to help improve your bone and joint health.

 

1) Posture and Ergonomics

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We must not underestimate the importance of our posture in the prevention and treatment of joint related injuries. This is achieved through ‘ergonomics’, “an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use, so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely”.

 

The Car: For those of you who do a lot of driving you’ve probably experienced tight shoulders and back on occasion. Using car lumber support which naturally straightens your posture and is a total back saver for those long drives.

 

The Desk: For those who spend hours sitting at their desk, particularly at the moment where many of us are working from home in a temporary office set up, posture can be a huge issue. In fact, unaware if it we may have already have started experiencing repetitive strain injury (RSI) from an improperly set up desk. It may be worth investing in a good office chair

 

Shoes: If anyone has had any injuries in the past it’s possible that your posture may be misaligned as a result of your feet. I highly recommend getting a gait analysis done. This basically involves the measurement of where your feet exhibit most of their pressure, you can then purchase insoles (orthotics) or shoes correct this.

 

Pillows:  A good pillow is hugely important if you have any back or neck problems. I personally recommend the orthopaedic pillows such as a memory foam contour pillows to support the neck after a hard days’ work.

2) Exercise & Strength

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Physical activity has been proven to help in the management of bone and joint related issues such as arthritis. Arthritis Ireland discuss how “as well as reducing pain and inflammation, keeping active improves joint support and lubrication, helps with weight control and has many other health benefits”. Exercise through movement can help to re-establish proper movement and build muscular strength.

 

Low Impact Exercises: They also suggest that “low-impact bending and stretching – including cycling for knees and stretching exercises at home – keep discomfort to a minimum and prevent muscles and joints from seizing up”. Other low impact exercises include walking and swimming. In fact, swimming is a great activity as it is 1) low impact, 2) is a form of active stretching and 3) ensures full range of motion movements for many different body parts.

3) Nutrition Support

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So, we’ve discussed some practical lifestyle strategies but we must not underestimate the power of proper nutrition in the prevention and treatment of bone and joint related problems. I call this medicinal nutrition as it help to build strength, reduce inflammation and aid in recovery.

 

Protein

it is important to have a wide a variety of good quality protein for recovery and repair. Good sources of protein include lean meat, turkey, chicken, dairy products, cheese, pulses, nuts, seeds as well as eggs being one of the most bioavailable source of protein. Oily fish is also a great source of protein which contributes to the building of healthy muscle, in addition to this the Arthritis Foundation also suggest that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish are a great source of anti-inflammatories. Quorn is also a good source of protein for the vegetarians out there, is a mycoprotein in which is derived from mushrooms which is low in fat and high in fibre.

 

Nuts & Seeds

Let’s not forget the amazing health benefits of nuts and seeds such as walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios and almonds. High in protein, healthy fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) as well as omega-3 fatty acids, they’re also natural anti-inflammatory foods.

 

Calcium

Calcium plays a major role in bone health with approximately 99% of body Ca is found in bone, where it serves a key structural role. We also have greater requirements for calcium during the periods of rapid growth in childhood and adolescence, during pregnancy, when breast feeding, and in later life so it’s extremely important to ensure adequate calcium consumption in the diet and in supplement form. Inadequate calcium consumption can decrease one’s risk of low bone density, osteopenia and osteoporosis. I recommend the Solgar Calcium and Vitamin D3 is a great supplement.

 

Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays a major role in calcium absorption but also holds other functions such as hormonal and immune health, which is particularly important for anyone who may be taking medications which lower your immune system. Also, for those of you who may be taking steroids as part of your treatment it’s important to keep an eye on your bone density and it’s highly recommended to increase your vitamin D intake and through diet and supplement form. The Vitamin D supplement I recommend is the Pharma Nord Vitamin D Pearls, which contain the bioactive vitamin D3 in its most absorbable form.

 

Magnesium

Magnesium serves many functions for instance Arthritis Society describes how it “strengthens bones, maintains nerve and muscle function and helps maintain joint cartilage” and can be found in foods such as almonds, cashews, peanuts, peanut butter; soybeans, spinach, dried beans, potatoes and whole grains. I recommend the Pharma Nord magnesium as it contains the three absorbable forms (this tablet can be dissolved in water also), if you prefer magnesium in liquid form I recommend the Floradix magnesium. 

 

 

 

Glucosamine & Chondroitin 

Both glucosamine and chondroitin  are naturally found in healthy cartilage. The Arthritis Foundation describe how in laboratory tests “glucosamine showed anti-inflammatory properties and even appeared to help cartilage regeneration” whilst chondroitin helps to ensure fluidity within the joints, making them a great combination and often found together in supplements.

 

Hyaluronic Acid

The Arthritis Foundation describes how “joints are like gears – they work best if they’re well lubricated. In a healthy joint, a thick substance called synovial fluid provides lubrication, allowing bones to glide against one another, whilst also acting as a shock absorber”. In individuals  with osteoarthritis “a critical substance in synovial fluid known as hyaluronic acid breaks down” which may contribute to joint pain and stiffness.

I recommend the Solgar Glucosamine, Chondroitin, MSM and Hyaluronic Acid supplement. Hyaluronic acid can also be purchased in liquid form which is easily absorbed such as the LubriSynHA

4) Natural Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Ginger – Has many healing properties which include anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities, as well as a small amount of analgesic property. Why not try add a couple of teaspoons of ginger to your food in a curry, smoothie or take it in supplement form.

 

Cinnamon – Has antioxidant properties that help inhibit cell damage. Why not try add a couple of teaspoons to porridge oats for a nutritious breakfast.

 

Turmeric – Not many people are aware of this wonder spice. The Arthritis Foundation describe how “curcumin is the active chemical in turmeric root”. This is a natural inflammatory which can as a result “translate to reduced joint pain and swelling”. Why not try add turmeric to a curry or smoothie to make it extra nutritious.

 

Garlic & Onions – Both garlic and onions contain a substance called ‘diallyl disulphide’ which also is a natural anti-inflammatory compound.  Again, the Arthritis foundation suggest that it can “help fight the pain, inflammation and cartilage damage of arthritis” and other joint related issues

 

About Laurann: Laurann O’Reilly is qualified and experienced Nutritionist with a BSc. Degree in Human Nutrition from University of Nottingham and a Master’s in Public Health Nutrition from University College Dublin.  She has over 10 years of experience including working community and clinical care, research,  personalised nutrition consultations (dealing in healthy eating, weight loss, digestive health and sports nutrition), nutrition education talks and workshops (corporate wellness, schools, sports teams, public and private talks), previous food manager of the Coeliac Society of Ireland and is part of the roll out team for the Healthy Ireland Smart Start health promotion programme for pre-schools.

 

For further information see www.nutritionbylaurann.ie or contact Laurann at info@nutritionby.laurann.ie

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