3 Foods for Ultimate Joint Health

Athletes pedal 80 revolutions per minute on the bike and an average 80 to 100 foot-strikes per minute when running. This leads to almost 5,000 knee flexions and extensions times per hour—ouch. 

As you head into the summer sports season, focus on joint health. If your joints are already injured, aging, or over-used, you can alleviate pain, swelling and inflammation with natural foods and extracts.

Here are three real, whole foods that are known to improve joint health. Give the ultimate joint health smoothie a try too.

More: Build Strong Bones With 4 Ingredients

Ginger

Ginger is an anti-inflammatory and loaded with antioxidants and phytochemicals that fight and prevent disease. Ginger also promotes pain relief and health by sending nutrients to work at the site of joints, rather than simply aiding in a systemic reduction of inflammation.

Part of a 2010 study from the University of Georgia shows ginger is effective in reducing muscle soreness in athletes. In one of the two studies conducted, participants took either 2 grams ginger or placebo each day for several days before strenuous exercise. The ginger participants had a 25-percent reduction in soreness indicators versus those on placebo. 

For proactive joint health: Add two ginger supplement pills (500 to 550 milligrams ginger each) every day or eat 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, or a 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, each day with foods. 

For a current joint injury: Add four ginger supplement pills (500 to 550 milligrams ginger each) every day or eat 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, or 1/2 tsp ground ginger, each day with other foods.

More: 10 Quick Fixes to Save Your Knees and Joints

Dark or Tart Cherry Juice

Studies by the USDA, a host of universities, and independent researchers have shown a reduction in joint pain for arthritic participants who consume tart cherry juice regularly. It's also an effective gout treatment for many sufferers.

While the research supports its use, nothing specific has been determined or identified to explain just how it works.

For proactive joint health: Add 3/4 to 1 cup fresh or frozen cherries, or 4 ounces cherry juice to your diet each day. 

For a current joint injury: Add 8 ounces cherry juice to your diet each day but beware that tart or dark cherry juice can be very high in calories and sugars. Modify other parts of your diet if needed.

More: 10 Drinks for Fast Recovery

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