Two things most, if not all, indigenous civilizations have in common is a lifestyle that is rooted in movement, and a diet that is rich in anti-inflammatory super foods. Picture tribes of the Amazon, traveling the Amazon River, navigating the rain forests; ancient civilizations in the fertile crescent, squatting in the fields as they farmed and worked the land; Oriental civilizations, with practices such as Chi Gong and Tai Chi. One of the most notable shifts from then to now, is the occurrence of chronic diseases, including arthritis, auto-immune diseases, and diabetes, just to name a few. It was far more common for someone to fall ill or die from an acute disease, such as an infection or virus, than a chronic disease. Why the big shift? In this article, we discuss, 3 ways to keep your joints healthy and young.
Consider your lifestyle right now. How might you be setting yourself up for longevity? A common disbelief is that our age is in our muscles, and therefore, building big, strong muscles will increase our longevity. In truth, and as modeled by these examples of antiquity, our age is actually in our joints. One’s ability to move and groove, gather and farm, run and jump, comes from the mobility and health of the joints. So, you may now be wondering, ‘What can I do to cultivate healthy joints?’
3 Key Steps to Healthy Joints
Many Eastern practices focus on movement, through mobilization of not just the body, but of energy and joints as well. Tai chi, chi gong, and yoga all share this. The more you move, the more body wants to move. It’s like laughter – once you start, the energy can keep rolling and build upon itself. Phew! You can rest assured in this if a movement practice is not yet part of your wellness routine.
Whatever movement practice you choose, whether it’s yoga, marital arts, a walk or jog through your local park, it’s beneficial to mix it up. Keeping the body and joints challenged with new movements, movement across various planes, and movement in new and different environments, increases its capacity to re calibrate adjust accordingly, keeping not just your joints, but your neurological pathways of learning sharp.
Often we are told to not ‘stress’ the joints. The opposite could not be more true! Stressing the joints, safely and appropriately, could not be more beneficial for long term health. When we bring appropriate stress to the joints and connective tissues, they get stronger! Resistance training, in the form of body weight movements and yoga, or with load, such as weights and dumbbells, for instance, are both extremely beneficial for building joint strength and dexterity.
To give your joints the greatest benefit, try to engage in several different forms of movement. For instance, if you enjoy running or jogging, add in some yoga or work with weights. If you experience discomfort in the joints, find a way to safely strengthen them, rather than completely rest or not use them. Of course, honor the body and your intuition when it comes to rest – the point here being, strengthening will not happen by rest alone. It may be useful to work with a trainer or in a group fitness class if you’d like more support in this arena.
The last bit I’ll offer in regard to the joints is, if you live somewhere where it’s accessible, hop in the ocean! The ocean contains all the minerals the body needs, in the perfect balance and ratio. If you’ve ever been in the ocean, you’ve likely experienced feeling refreshed, re-energized, and reborn, and it’s no surprise why! Movement in water is also very advantageous, as the force of gravity is greatly decreased, allowing greater range of motion and movement.
There is great wisdom in the adage, ‘you are what you eat.’ (In Ayurveda, you are what you digest and assimilate). Eating a diet filled with anti-inflammatory foods and alkalizing foods also supports joint health. Joints are an area of the body that can be made especially vulnerable by inflammation. Try incorporating the following foods into your diet:
- Grapefruit: great source of vitamin c and bioflavonoids
- Walnuts: contain omega 3s, a powerful anti-inflammatory
- Fish oil / Oily fish such as salmon and sardine: Another source of (omega 3s)
- Berries: reduce inflammatory chemicals in the body
- Green tea: contains catechins that also reduce inflammatory chemicals in the body
- Dark Leafy greens: alkalizing and high in antioxidants and minerals, which support healthy cartilage
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: reduces the risk of arthritis
- Turmeric: contains curcumin, a compound that helps with an appropriate inflammatory response (ie. healing!).
- Onions + Garlic: source of quercetin, an anti-inflammatory antioxidant, and allicin, a compound that is known to relieve symptoms of arthritis
- (If you are incorporating these into your diet – they can be very rajasic, or heating for the body and mind – avoid if you have a Pitta imbalance…)
Seek Extra Support from Herbs and Plants
In addition to developing a movement practice and eating a balanced, anti-inflammatory diet, you can seek extra support from herbs, especially those found in the My Health Joints Formula.
Let’s highlight just a few of the wonderful plant allies found in this formula:
- Boswellia, more commonly know as Frankincense is a very powerful anti-inflammatory, that comes from a tree in the Middle East by the same name.
- Curcumin, an extract found in the root turmeric, which promotes a healthy inflammatory response)
- Ginger, laksa guggul, and herb that supports bones, Himalayan Shilajeet, a source of 85 ionic minerals, which help with absorption and nutrient balance.
- Magnesium, Coenzyme Q10, and L-phenylalanine, which support joint and bone health.
Like with any new wellness habit or routine, take it one step at a time – set small goals and work your way into a new way of living and being. Be gentle with yourself, and remember, you’re moving, grooving, and eating healthfully all in an effort to stay healthy, mobile, and give yourself the gift of longevity.