About one third of adults have on going problems with inflammatory joint pain. And the reasons might surprise you. It could be arthritis or bursitis. Sometimes it can be caused by autoimmune diseases, like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. Exercise, although great for your body, can make joints more inflamed. Especially if you’re exercising too much, with not enough rest. But an important consideration is food intolerance. It’s not an obvious connection we make. You might be reacting to foods like gluten, potatoes or sugar. These foods are often part our daily diet and fuel inflammation. Nightshades are a common culprit. They include tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and aubergines. These veggies contain alkaloids that can cause a lot of joint and muscle pain in some people. So, if it’s a persistent problem it’s worth thinking about how your diet might be contributing to your joint pain. The easiest way to do this is to remove the foods you suspect might be causing the problem and see whether your joints have improved.
Nutrients to help relieve pain
There are lots of studies on foods that can be as powerful as anti-inflammatory drugs. And without all the nasty side effects. We’ve put some of them together to make a smoothie that’ll help soothe your joints. It’s a super tasty way to treat inflammation from the inside out.
Pineapple contains the anti-inflammatory enzyme called bromelain. Studies show bromelain is as effective as anti-inflammatory drugs (called NSAIDs). It numbs pain in your joints.
Ginger has been used for centuries as a natural anti-inflammatory spice. It’s so potent that it can kill cancer cells. Ginger blocks enzymes in your body that cause inflammation, which is why it works so well to relieve pain.
Turmeric has a compound in it called curcumin, which is anti-inflammatory and is a natural pain reliever. It too can kill cancer cells. It works similarly to ginger by blocking pro-inflammatory enzymes.
Tip to remember - always eat turmeric with a pinch of black pepper.
Black pepper contains piperine; studies show that taking it alongside turmeric increases your absorption of curcumin by 2000%. So a good tip to remember - always eat turmeric with a pinch of black pepper.
Tart cherries (sour cherries) are often used by athletes to recover from joint pain. They’re full of antioxidants called anthocyanins that reduce inflammation. They’re also rich in vitamin C, which you need to make collagen and build cartilage. Perfect for the fitness fanatic. Tart cherry juice is now available in most supermarkets. But you can swap the cherries for blueberries, raspberries or blackberries - they work well too.
Virgin coconut oil is one of nature’s most powerful anti-inflammatory foods. Eat it with turmeric. It helps the curcumin to absorb better. Coconut oil is a great remedy for inflammation because it stimulates collagen and helps repair tissues and joints.
Fish oil contains Omega 3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation and repair damaged tissue. If you increase your Omega 3 fats you’ll really speed up the healing. The Sicilian lemon oil in Lion Heart fish oil works really well in any type of smoothie.
What you need
- 1 cup fresh pineapple chunks
- ½ cup tart cherries or tart cherry juice
- 1 inch fresh ginger root (or ½ teaspoon of dried ginger)
- 1 inch fresh turmeric root (or ½ teaspoon of dried turmeric)
- Pinch of black pepper
- ½ teaspoon of virgin coconut oil
- ½ teaspoon of Lion Heart fish oil
Throw all your ingredients into a blender. Whizz until smooth.
Lynn’s tip: Try to drink it straight away because the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants become less potent once they’ve been exposed to air. If you’re saving some for later, pop it back in the fridge in an airtight container to keep it fresh.
Lynn is a certified Nutritional Therapist (DipCNM), member of BANT and the founder of BioKitchen that produces gluten, dairy and sugar free produce. She practices at Preston Drove Osteopaths in Brighton, and supports clients with advice on how to implement functional foods to correct nutritional imbalances. She offers practical tips on how to manage change, overcome dietary habits, offering recipe ideas and healthy cooking workshops. Lynn comes from a Project Management background, and retrained in Nutritional Therapy after seeing profound changes in her autistic son’s behaviour after implementing an anti-inflammatory diet free of gluten, dairy and sugar. Inspired by her eldest son’s progress, Lynn continues to promote Nutritional Therapy as key for any child’s development, and works with adults seeking personalised food and lifestyle programmes to regain their health.
Lynn Hickinbottom BA(hons), DipCNM Nutrition, BANT
Find out more about how Omega 3 fish oil can help look after your joints in our Omega 3 fish oil guide to joints and arthritis.