I’m sure as many of us get older and feel some of the related aches and pains, we start to think more about our joint health. Who doesn’t know someone that has had a knee or hip joint replaced? I know a several people with artificial joints. Unfortunately, I know a few who need them, but suffer with the pain because they lack the health insurance or other financial resources to have the procedure done.
Most often we hear that it is wear and tear on the joints that is responsible for the reduction of cartilage that leads to the pain. However, sometimes I see apparently conflicting advice on how to keep your joints healthy. A recent article said that weight bearing exercise several times a week was the best osteoarthritis preventative there is. However, I read somewhere else that the occupations most likely to need joint replacements were farmers, nurses, and other people who spend hours every day on their feet. Maybe this is another instance of some is good, but more is not necessarily better?
A study published last year seems to indicate that this is yet another area where diet may be a big influence. People who consumed the most vitamin C, mainly from eating fruit, had the lowest likelihood of developing joint problems. Osteoarthritis is a problem that as many as 21 million people in the U.S. suffer from. The risk of the disease increases as we age, so with the aging American population, help in the form of diet would be most welcome.
Whether a supplement works or not still seems to be an open question. On the same day you can hear a so-called health expert state that supplements have no preventative effect, while another will say that they do. Consumers, whether they are correct or not, are saying that they think they work by purchasing millions of dollars in joint health supplements every year. In fact, supplements for joint health are one of the biggest sellers in the vitamin and supplement industry, and as our population ages, their use will only increase.
So what should we do as we age? The study I saw on fruit consumption did not indicate how much fruit the participants ate. Because the results were summarized as “people reporting eating the highest amounts of fruit had the most benefit”, it would seem that the more you eat the better. I would suggest caution, however. As we get older and our calorie requirements decrease, it becomes much harder to eat a varied diet. Tilting your diet too much towards any one food, healthy or not, may not be the best approach to take.