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Do you have sore, painful, stiff, injured, or loose joints/ligaments, or are you prone to injury or concerned about supporting your joints?

You might need support for joint or ligament structure and formation. Ligaments support our joints, holding them in place and facilitating smooth movement. Joints are made of molecules called GAGs (such as chondroitin from glucosamine), collagen and hyaluronic acid. Ligaments and tendons have more collagen providing tensile strength. Both joints and ligaments can be prone to wear and tear, stiffness, or even damage in an accident or exercising.

Joint degradation is characterised by inadequate GAG, proteoglycan and collagen synthesis to renew tissue that can be damaged through physical stress, trauma, autoimmunity or ageing. Enzymes involved in remodelling of joints and bone, as well as inflammation can become upregulated, creating further breakdown of the joints. This can result in weak, damaged or inflamed tissues, with restricted or painful movement.

Risk factors for joint degradation include:

What you can do with diet & lifestyle

A balanced diet and healthy lifestyle are both important factors for supporting our joints and maintaining bone health. Below you will find some useful tips and recommendations to help you support your joint health.

Lifestyle recommendations

  • Regular exercise is important for strengthening muscles surrounding the joints and supporting mobility. Low impact exercises such as swimming, walking, cycling and yoga can be beneficial for joint conditions.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight can help to reduce excess stress on the joints.
  • Physical therapies performed by chiropractors, osteopaths or massage therapists can help to release muscle tension around the joints, alignment, improve circulation to the joints and reduce pain.
  • Reduce stress through doing activities that you enjoy and taking time out to rest. Walks outside in the day can also help to balance hormones as well as regulating cortisol levels.

Dietary recommendations

  • A Mediterranean-style diet high in fruits, vegetables, legumes, wholegrains and healthy fats such as olive oil helps to increase antioxidant intake and reduce inflammation.
  • Reduce consumption of processed foods, high sugar foods and alcohol, which can promote inflammation.
  • Make sure you include protein with each meal as this is essential for collagen production and maintaining muscle mass.
  • Calcium-rich foods include: sardines, sesame seeds, collard greens, spinach, kale, swiss chard, broccoli and tofu.
  • Bone broth provides a natural source of glucosamine, gelatin and chondroitin to offer support for joints and ligaments.
  • Supporting the gut microbiome and digestive function can help with the absorption of essential minerals for joint health, as well as regulating inflammation. A diet high in plant foods will help to feed our beneficial gut bugs, as well as fermented foods such as kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi.

Supplement support

In addition to a healthy diet and lifestyle, you may want to look at some supplements to further support your joints.

Several nutritional supplements have shown promise for relieving pain, stiffness and other arthritis symptoms. Glucosamine and chondroitin, omega-3 fatty acids, SAM-e and curcumin are just some of the natural products researchers have studied for osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

A collagen supplement together with vitamin C may also be added to these, to support collagen formation in cartilage and tendons.