The main function of a joint is to connect bones and provide mobility to the body. The articular surfaces of the bones are covered with cartilaginous tissue, which facilitates their sliding and reduces friction. Thanks to the smooth cartilage, the bones easily slide over each other's surfaces, making our movements easy and painless. When the integrity of the cartilage is disrupted, movement of the bones in the joint becomes difficult, causing discomfort and pain.
So, as you can see, our well-being depends on joint health. And joint health depends on 3 main factors: drinking enough water, maintaining a healthy body weight, and prioritizing proper nutrition.
Why is water important?
Water is a source of life-giving moisture for the articular (synovial) fluid. Joints are isolated from the “outside world” - there are no blood vessels in them. So their only source of nutrition is the synovial fluid, which also acts as a shock absorber between the cartilages. The quality of this fluid and the lifespan of the joints depend on how sufficiently the body is provided with water. If there is not enough water, the joint fluid becomes too thick and even viscous, and the cartilages lose their elasticity.
Excess weight and weight fluctuations have a significant negative impact on your joints. The entire skeletal system, tendons, ligaments and muscles are all affected. Not only from the physical pressure of extra pounds but also from metabolic disorders.
Excessive pressure on the musculoskeletal system caused by excess weight can lead to the following consequences:
- thinning and softening of intra-articular cartilage;
- destruction of nearby tissues, including adjacent bones, synovium and muscle fibers;
- the development of inflammatory processes due to the weakening of the protective function of the affected articular surfaces;
- pathological compaction of bones.
And finally, the role of nutrition
As for nutrition, the body must receive the necessary vitamins and minerals, which are used as a resource to keep your joints healthy for as long as possible.
You've probably heard about the importance of calcium for bone and joint health. Otherwise, the following components are also important:
- Vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption. It is synthesized in our body under the influence of UV rays. And if there isn’t enough sun, you can find vitamin D in oily fish, butter and cheese;
- Protein is a building block of the whole organism, which is also vital for joints. The main sources are meat, fish, eggs, seafood, legumes, hard cheeses, and nuts;
- Collagen is part of bones, tendons and muscles and is essential for maintaining their health. Contained in jelly and hydrolyzed collagen supplements;
Vitamin C helps in collagen formation and normal bone development. Found in kiwi, rosehip, red pepper, grapefruit, blackcurrant, onions, tomatoes, and other fresh produce;
- Omega-3 fatty acids improve bone mineral density and reduce inflammation in the body. You’ll find it in oily fish, walnuts and flaxseeds;
- Vitamin K, which also increases bone density, is contained in parsley, spinach, lettuce, green tea, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, etc.;
- Magnesium stimulates the synthesis of collagen and elastin (connective tissue protein), and also participates in the synthesis of hyaluronic acid, which is part of the connective tissue. Found in nuts and seeds such as pumpkin seeds, sesame, hazelnuts, cashews, almonds, and more;
- Vitamin P or bioflavonoids help to strengthen joints and prevent the breakdown of hyaluronic acid. Contained in rosehip, grapefruit, black and red currants, cranberries, green tea, and cherries.
Your choice: maintain or repair
When we are young and full of energy, joint problems seem so far away. However, youthful health passes quickly, especially if it’s not taken care of. It's always easier to maintain than to repair. Therefore, let's start dealing with the prevention of joint diseases as early as possible!