Joint Pain in the Summer: How Food Can Help

As we enter the summer months it is important to take into consideration how the heat can impact our bodies, most specifically on our joints. Although arthritis is a common concern during the winter months due to cold temperatures, the heat during the summer months can also cause it to flare up. So here is a helpful list of foods that you can eat to help your joints enjoy the summer, in addition to a list of foods that you should try to avoid. 

How does heat affect your joints?

Due to the temperature and humidity in the air, the heat can affect the amount of fluid travelling through your joints, this is because it causes the small blood vessels in the body to open. Rather than relieving inflammation this act stimulates it. In addition to this, inflammation also has an effect on your tendons, muscles and ligaments causing them to stiffen, this is because tiny fluid sacs in the body called bursae become swollen. If you are currently suffering or concerned with any of these issues simply click here if you would like to learn more and possibly seek help. Although exercise and medication are commonly used to help with these issues, there are many foods that promote anti-inflammation. During these summer months, there’s a wide variety of these foods to choose from. If you are still interested on learning how heat can affect your body in this way simply click here to learn more. 

Family, on beach in Summer

Foods that will Benefit your Joints

Here are some of the best foods that can benefit your joints, as they either aid the body’s fight against oxidative stress (which can cause inflammation) or have anti-inflammatory properties. 

Omega 3 – Fish for Thought 

Omega 3 helps the body in regulating the anti-inflammatory process. Fish such as mackerel, salmon, sardines and cod are highly recommended in addition to seeds and nuts such as flax seeds, walnuts, almonds and chia seeds. Olive oil is another great source of Omega 3, and can be used as a healthy alternative to other oils when cooking anything from meat and fish to vegetables. Olive oil is another great source of Omega 3, and can be used as a healthy alternative to other oils. 

During these summer months where fish like salmon and mackerel are rich in stock it isn’t hard to find them at a local fish market where they are fresh and rich in flavour. It isn’t difficult to factor into your diet either; try making yourself a fish summer stew or even fish tacos. As for nuts, you could always incorporate these as healthy snacks throughout the day

Veggies  

Various vegetables contain different compounds and properties which assist with anti-inflammatory effects. During summer many vegetables are in season thus, it is easy to find them down at a local market stall where they taste full of flavour and for a cheaper price too. 

Green vegetables such as kale, cabbage, lettuce, spinach and brussel sprouts contain sulforaphane which is an antioxidant with extremely powerful inflammatory effects. Whilst vegetables such as tomatoes (yes it’s fruit, I know) contain lycopene which is also an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties.

Moreover, Bell Peppers contain an antioxidant called quercetin which can reduce both oxidant damage and inflammatory diseases in people. Chilli peppers however, contain sinapic acid and ferulic acid which also reduces inflammation. All of the vegetables listed can be incorporated into a variety of different meals. During summer, lettuce and tomatoes can be made into a delicious salad, and bell peppers can be added to healthy kebabs on a barbecue. 

Colourful Fruits

Plenty of fruits contain different anti-inflammatory properties, and during these summer months there are plenty of them to go around and find. Whether that be through going out and harvesting them yourself, with friends and family or by popping down to your local market. Berries contain anthocyanins, an antioxidant with compounds that combat inflammatory effects. 

Cherries themselves still contain anthocyanins however, they also contain catechins as well which also fight inflammation.

Berries and cherries aren’t the only fruit to look out for as Grapes contain anthocyanins, another antioxidant that promotes anti-inflammation. Although you can’t go out and pick your own grapes, many market stalls will be full of them as they will be in season. The great thing about fruit is it can easily be incorporated into your daily diet, whether that be through adding berries to your cereal in the morning or eating grapes as a snack throughout the day. 

Summer Berries, Strawberries and Blackberries

Dark Chocolate 

Whilst foods within this food group are seen as unhealthy, there is an exception when it comes to dark chocolate. This is because dark chocolate contains flavanols  – these contain anti-inflammatory effects in addition to keeping the lining of your arteries (endothelial) healthy as well. 

Dark chocolate can be found in all supermarkets or confectionery stores however, it is important to ensure that there is at least 70% or more cocoa in the chocolate to guarantee you are getting all the health benefits. Although it is still recommended to not eat too much chocolate, dark chocolate can still be incorporated in a diet as a dessert or as a snack within the day. 

If you are interested in learning what other foods are a benefit to ease your arthritis pain then click here.

 

Foods that you should avoid

These foods should be avoided when possible as they can increase the levels of fluid in the joints and cause more inflammation. Consequently, with the heat already causing pain in the joints, it is best to withdraw from eating these foods as they can increase the levels of pain and potentially cause more health issues. Although it is not an issue to eat these foods on occasion, it is important not to over consume in any of these fields especially if you are already suffering from arthritis. 

Processed foods 

Processed foods include foods such as popcorn, margarine, granola bars and bacon. Processed foods should be avoided as they release inflammatory messengers around the body as these foods contain products that are much harder for the body to break down. Luckily these food items can be easily replaced.

 A good alternative is ‘turkey’ bacon as it is less salty and leaner in comparison. Rather than popcorn or granola bars, a better alternative could be nuts, such as walnuts and/or almonds. Finally, margarine can be replaced with olive oil as a healthy alternative for cooking. If using an oil ensures that it’s used in moderation or for an easy alternative, 0cal spray is a great option. 

Omega 6 

Omega 6 are fatty oils, these consist of oils such as sunflower, peanut, corn etc.  These oils should be avoided as they convert linolenic acid into arachidonic acid which specifically increases inflammation. 

The one oil which is a healthy alternative is olive oil, although it may lack in flavour in comparison to other oils, this can easily be made up through the use of herbs and spices. 

High Trans fat 

High trans fat foods include deep fried food such as French fries, doughnuts, fried chicken etc, alongside other foods such as baked goods and frozen pizza. Large amounts of high trans fat should not be consumed as levels of LDL Cholesterol begin to build up, which not only causes inflammation, but  is also a danger to your health as a build up of cholesterol can block the main arteries to your heart. This can eventually lead to a heart attack. 

These foods can easily be substituted out for healthier alternatives. Rather than choosing to have a deep fried meal for your dinner, you can make yourself a healthier option using lean meats and vegetables. As for dessert options, instead of going for a doughnut a healthier option would be to go for some fruit such as berries or grapes. 

Refined Carbohydrates 

Refined Carbohydrates consist of foods such as pasta, pastries and sugary soft drinks. Refined Carbohydrates should be avoided as they hit the bloodstream in a short amount of time and spike sugar levels. Due to the increased sugar levels at such a rapid pace the body cannot respond fast enough and consequently, creates an inflammatory response. Why not replace pasta with noodles? Organic noodles do not contain any refined carbohydrates or trans fat. As for drinks, a healthy alternative could be water, or for something with more flavour, orange juice is also a good option.

If you would like to learn more on what foods you should avoid click here.

Women suffering from arthritis pain

Other ways to prevent heat from affecting your joints this summer

In addition to keeping an eye on your diet and putting into place the various changes and substitutions, you can also help your joints through various acts such as controlling your levels of blood sugar. As mentioned before, sugar enters the bloodstream at a very fast rate and the body’s only response is to send an inflammatory message, therefore, it’s best to keep an eye on the foods and drinks you’re consuming over summer. 

A great way to enjoy summer is by getting outdoors. Being outside can be beneficial to your health, by completing a daily target of around 30-40 minutes exercise. This can be done through any summer activity you enjoy such as frisbee, football, tennis, etc – anything that gets the body moving. However, make sure to stay cautious as here are some of the most common hand and wrist injuries during Summer. 

Finally, over this summer period whilst you enjoy the sun it’s good to take time and relax. When stressed, the body sends out an inflammatory response –  much like a fight or flight response, it is instinctive. Taking time out of your day to relax either through meditation, yoga or simply reading can really improve your overall physical and mental health.

 

Have any other questions or concerns? Get in touch with us now by clicking here.