We’re all pretty aware of how diet affects us when it comes to things like weight, heart disease, or our energy levels. But have you ever thought about how your diet might help you in your physical therapy? Diet isn’t just about the size of your waist. It also matters to your knee, your hips, and whatever else you might be seeing a physical therapist for. Here’s a few diet tips that might help you with that knee issues, and with all your other joints:
Sugar isn’t just a problem for the size of your hips. It’s also important for the hip joints themselves. In fact, some people call the pain they get after over indulging in this sweet treat “the sugar aches.” Sugar, or things that quickly break down to become sugar in the body’s metabolic process (that’s refined, quick carbs like bleached white flour and even some potato chips) are inflammatory foods. inflammation is your body’s defense system, and when you feel that ache and redness in your knee and other joints, it’s because chemical body warriors are there kicking butt.
Inflammation is supposed to help us heal wounds and fight off pathogens, but for a lot of people, sugar triggers this kind of response. If you love your sugar and are experiencing a lot of swelling and knee pain, no one is saying you have to ditch the sweets entirely. But while you’re going to all that trouble to do your physical therapy exercises, why not try cutting back on the sugar, too?
Get Enough Magnesium
Magnesium is an essential mineral for more than 300 enzyme processes in your body. It helps to maintain nerve and muscle function, it helps us regulate our blood sugar levels; but most importantly for your joint issues, it is essential for maintaining joint cartilage. You can get this awesome mineral in quite a few foods, but some types of magnesium are easier for humans to absorb than others.
The best quality magnesium in the most abundant quantities occur in fish, particularly wild caught fish. Other sources that could be good (depending on the soil they were grown in) are spinach, almonds, and sesame seeds. You’ll be psyched to know that chocolate is also rich in magnesium, but only dark chocolate that’s not been Swiss processed is actually going to do you much good. To cover all your bases, make a nice salad with plenty of spinach, top it with some wild caught halibut, and sprinkle magnesium-rich pumpkin seeds all over it!
Most people like fruit anyway, and berries are a great way to help your joints. They’re not only loaded with nutrients already, but they’re also rich in antioxidants that fight inflammation. In fact, it’s the antioxidants that give them their deep, rich red and blue hues. And while you’re thinking in terms of colors, don’t forget oranges as well. Orange and reddish orange vegetables, like carrots and sweet potatoes, are full of the vitamin A and beat-carotene, which are also super useful in fighting inflammation.
Herbs and spices not only make delicious garnishes and add wonderful flavor to your foods, but they might also help with that knee ache or make those hip stability exercises just a bit less difficult. Try turmeric. Turmeric is very rich in a natural antioxidant that’s similar to ibuprofen. This blocks inflammatory enzymes and the chemical messengers that signal pain to brain. You’ll find this lovely ingredient in a lot of curries, particularly the yellow ones. While you’re thinking of herbs and spices, also think basil. It’s been used in Europe and India to treat joint pain for centuries, and it’s the enzyme that makes it smell so sweet that helps to inhibit inflammation. Finally, load up on ginger. It’s one of the strongest anti-inflammatory nature has given us.
Diet is not a miracle, and the best diet in the world won’t keep you from wrenching those knees or pulling out your back. You need your physical therapy, and those exercises, to recover. But why not help it all along with a diet that will help reduce inflammation and strengthen your joints?