As we age there is a strong perception that ageing causes muscle and joint pain – it doesn’t have to!
This only occurs in people that haven’t developed the right lifestyle and nutrition management strategies to keep living a pain free, active, happy life.
I’m not denying that our bodies undergo natural degeneration, and that we slow down and have to modify our behaviours and exercise output, but ageing doesn’t have to equal pain.
Vegetables – studies have shown that people that eat more vegetables have less chronic pain full stop – and especially muscle and joint pain. This is mainly due to 2 reasons – these people are less likely to eat negative things for pain – sugar, processed meats etc. but also vegetables are our main source of vitamins and minerals – essential for all cellular functions in our body. If you are even slightly deficient in any vitamins and minerals at any given time, those reactions and physiological processes that depend on those nutrients don’t happen – your systems start to be under more stress – this leads to pain and stiffness. These nutrients, mainly in vegetables are often the body’s precursors and building blocks to our hormones and neurotransmitters – less testosterone means we can’t build muscle in our aging years, less dopamine and serotonin equals less happiness and more pain. (as an aside 80% of your serotonin lives in the gut – unhappy gut health – less good mood)
Variety is key with vegetables – lots of different colors each day – as this corresponds with different vitamins and minerals. dark leafy greens are the most important type.
Omega 3 – EPA and DHA has been shown to decrease knee pain for osteoarthritis sufferers. It’s a good poly-unsaturated fat that helps keep your cartilage in the best shape possible; studies have shown that it can’t help improve your already degenerated cartilage but it can stop further degeneration. It’s helpful for OA or rheumatoid arthritis because it has anti-inflammatory components, and it’s also critical for brain function and helps improve your skin integrity.
Found in oily fish – tuna, salmon, herring, etc. (be sure to get wild caught to minimize heavy metals) plant-based sources are chia seeds and flax seeds, some other products are now adding omega 3 fatty acids into their products as well – cereal etc. If supplementing always have with food. Humans can’t convert the plant-based omega to the usable form anywhere near as well as omega 3 from fish.
Magnesium – a key mineral to improve muscle stiffness and pain, mg can help to decrease muscle spasms and help restless legs. Get it from dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds in various percentages, fish, beans and lentils and whole grains
Protein – the older you are the harder it is to build muscle. This is the unfortunate truth. But notice I said it was just harder – not impossible – but you have to give yourself every advantage – having 1 – 1.4g of protein per kg of ideal body weight per day is key to maintain good muscle tone and strength as you age. the stronger your muscles are the more pressure they take off your joints, the less pain you have and the more mobile you stay. In Australia like almost all developed nations, older people are chronically protein deficient. this is due to various reasons, one of the biggest is they get stuck on a “tea and toast” diet – really high GI carbohydrates, usually high in hidden sugar, empty calories, lacking nutrient density. So, make an effort to have lots of nuts, legumes, eggs, and fish to help all of your systems including your joints and muscles. Brown or wholemeal types of carbs is also a source of protein and contain much more nutrients than their white, processed cousins.
Now, actually go and look in the fridge and pantry and make some positive changes – to improve your quality of life.
We have our wonderful Dietitian, Steph from Onpoint Nutrition on location at Orion Family Physiotherapy on Thursday afternoons. Click on this link to go straight to Steph’s website for more information.
And of course, our great team of Physiotherapists can assist you more on your journey. Just give us a call on 07 3470 1203.