Diet: can it improve or aggravate muscle and joint pain?

Healthy Eating | Muscle and Joint

Cortney Good
Desiree Abecassis

07 July 2020

There is one overlooked lifestyle factor, practiced up to 3x a day or more that may either exacerbate or improve your pain. If pain or inflammation is present in your body in any form, you will want to consider your eating habits. Remember, you are what you eat as well as what you absorb!
Generally, joint pain is experienced when the body is at rest, whereas muscle pain is experienced when the body is in motion.

Monitoring Diet and Nutrition is critical for managing physical pain and inflammation.

While there is no magic bullet for eliminating arthritis or joint pain, luckily, there are some measures one can take to halt its progress and help to ease the discomfort and inflammation that might accompany it. There are certain foods, which should be included, and some which should be avoided when it comes to reducing bodily pain and inflammation.

The following foods should be avoided as they may worsen pain.

They should be taken in moderation or completely removed from the diet:

  • Refined sugar: Has a detrimental impact on both muscle and joint pain. Sugar can trigger the release of inflammatory messengers called cytokines in the body.
  • Foods Containing Saturated and Trans Fats. Several findings indicate that saturated fats cause inflammation of fat tissue. This inflammation may worsen arthritis.
  • Refined Carbohydrates and Processed Foods. Processed carbs convert into fats which are a leading cause of obesity and chronic disease. These foods have a high glycemic index and increase inflammation in our body.
  • Gluten and Casein. Individuals with joint pain and gluten sensitivity may find relief by avoiding foods such as dairy products, wheat, barley or casein. Some have suggested a strong link between gluten sensitivity / celiac disease and arthritis.
  • Alcohol. Alcohol can be very hard on the body's liver. The overconsumption of alcohol may cause inflammation. It should be completely eliminated from the diet, especially if consumed daily.
  • Red and Processed Meats. Consuming these meat products can lead to a build up of arachidonic acid. This acid causes inflammation and can make joint pain worse.
  • Vegetables in the nightshade family. Vegetables in this family include: potatoes, tomatoes and peppers and contain a chemical known as solanine. This chemical can create a chemical reaction in the body which may lead to pain.
  • Processed foods including baked goods, cakes, potato chips or fast food. These foods are loaded with saturated fats which can put extra load on the body's joints.
  • Refined table Salt can create an imbalance between vital electrolytes and minerals in our body. These electrolytes and minerals help support the proper functioning of our muscles and joints and when depleted, consequences may result.

In order to get relief from muscle and joint pain these are some ideal foods that should be included in ones diet.

A healthy diet plan consisting of fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and fish can help to manage inflammation and pain:

  • High quality Protein. Protein plays a vital role in the building and regeneration of muscle tissue. A shortage of protein in the system may cause your muscles to ache. The quantity and type of protein you consume matters as well as certain types may help to fight inflammation.
    Types of healthy protein sources that can be added to your diet include: chicken, grass fed beef, black beans, lentils, fish, turkey, eggs, nut butters, quinoa.
  • Healthy Fats.Healthy fats derived from fish contain potent Omega 3 essential fatty acids that are helpful as they have anti-inflammatory properties. These include fish such as sardines, tuna, salmon and mackerel. Olives and their oil, coconuts and their oil, organic eggs, avocado and raw nuts and seeds are all excellent sources of healthy fat.
  • Vegetables and fruits.
    - Onions: contain a compound called quercetin that helps to stabilize the cells that release histamine and this creates an anti-inflammatory effect.
    - Berries contain anthocyanins which contain potent anti-inflammatory properties.
    - Fruits with higher antioxidant values are beneficial.
    - Vegetables containing an abundance of antioxidants include: Artichokes, spinach, kale, red and green chili peppers, cabbage and red beets.
  • Calcium and Magnesium rich foods. Are beneficial for the relaxation and contraction of muscles.
    - Foods rich in calcium include: Collard greens kale, sardines including their bones, yogurt.
    - Magnesium rich foods include: almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, leafy green vegetables and beans.
  • Vitamin D. Vitamin D plays a vital role in the proper functioning of the muscles as well.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Herbs and Spices.
    - Garlic: has been shown to help shut down the pathways that lead to inflammation.
    - Ginger
    - Turmeric
    - Cinnamon
    - Cayenne

Muscle and joint pain can affect people of all ages. Fortunately, muscle and joint pain can be managed through nutrition. Foods, when the right ones are chosen, have the ability to provide a great amount of pain relief and can help one to live an enjoyable and healthy life.