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Relief for Joint Aches: As Easy as 1,2,3

By Julian Whitaker, M.D.

Joint aches and stiffness are perhaps the most common of all physical complaints, affecting almost 50 million Americans. It comes in all forms and shapes: the jogger with creaky, stiff knees, the grandmother having trouble opening a jar...But there is hope! The program that I've been using with my patients for years not only alleviates the symptoms of aching joints, but also helps to repair the joints by regenerating the cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones.

1. Good nutrition builds healthy joints

Diet is a powerful therapy for any condition, and joint health is no exception. A low-fat, moderate-protein diet, based around vegetables, fruits, legumes, and grains, is what the human body was designed for, and it functions best when fueled properly. Plus, the most important dietary consideration in any inflammatory condition such as joint aches and stiffness is the proper type and amount of fat. For example, cold-water fish and flaxseed are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which promote a healthy inflammatory response. In other words, if you eat cold-water fish several times a week and add flaxseed to your recipes, you'll give your body more of what it needs to fight inflammation. Most other types of fat tend to promote inflammation. The worst culprits are processed oils, saturated fats and hydrogenated oils (such as peanut butter and margarine). Keep your overall fat intake in the 20 percent range, and avoid unhealthy fats as much as possible.

2. Exercise your way to improved joint function

The last thing you may want to do with an aching joint is exercise it. But a vast body of research clearly shows that exercise is extremely effective in restoring function, movement, and flexibility. People with aching or stiff joints who regularly exercise make significant gains in flexibility and mobility and their ability to function. If you've been inactive for awhile or you're over 45, I recommend seeing your doctor or therapist so that your functional status can be assessed and a tailored program based on your current clinical status can be initiated. This evaluation should include a graded exercise stress test as well as joint mobility testing.

3. Take a full spectrum of joint-supporting nutrients

Make sure your body is getting what it needs to support and nourish your joints. The right combination of nutrients will target the root of your joint aches to ease your discomfort and bring you lasting relief.

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