Now that I am in my 40s, I have definitely shifted my focus in many ways when it comes to my fitness and nutrition goals. One key issue that has been on my radar for a while now is maintaining healthy bones and joints. So when I was approached recently by OmniChannel Health Media and its sponsor to write on the topic of joint health, namely shopping for products at Walmart that promote upkeep of our joints, I was all for it and am happy to share some of my tips and the latest research in this area!
Joints are essential to keeping us moving. They are the connections between bones. Smooth tissue called cartilage, synovium and synovial fluid cushions our joints so they do not rub together. Unfortunately, factors such as increasing age, carrying too much weight and sustaining injuries can wear down cartilage ultimately leading to joint damage, discomfort and arthritis. The good news is that there are ways that we can protect and maintain the health of our joints, namely by engaging in regular exercise and eating a nutritious diet. Certain dietary supplements may also be useful.
Here are some basic tips for good joint health:
· Keep on moving!
Regular activity, namely aerobic exercise like walking, swimming or biking, helps prevent excess weight gain, increases mobility and reduces joint swelling, stiffness and inflammation. Adding strength training with weights (or exercises using our own body weight) helps maintain our muscle mass, which helps to support and stabilize our joints. It is also important to do daily stretches along with activity to promote mobility and range of motion. If you have specific medical issues or concerns, check with your doctor about what activity is safe and right for you. Sessions with a certified personal trainer or physical therapist can also be helpful to create a personalized exercise plan based on your history. Walmart has an excellent fitness section with weights, exercise equipment and work out gear to help give you a jump start on your routine. Grab a BPA-free reusable water bottle to help hydrate you while you’re at it!
· Maintain a healthy weight
Keeping your weight in a healthy range can a have a huge impact on preserving the function of your joints. The heavier your weight, the more strain that is put on your joints, which can lead to a lot of wear and tear and ultimately injury. If you are overweight, then beginning a weight loss program under the supervision of your doctor and a registered dietitian is a great place to start. Regular exercise (as listed above) and a healthy diet with portion control and plenty of fruits and veggies can help with weight management. Hit the colorful produce aisle at Walmart to stock up!
· Nourish your joints with the right foods
The best way to approach eating for healthy joints is to decrease the amount of pro-inflammatory foods in your diet and replace them with foods that fight inflammation, namely those high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. Eat less processed foods, sweets and fast food because they contain saturated fat, omega-6 fatty acids and sugar, all of which increase the inflammatory response in our body. Instead, fuel up with antioxidant rich choices such as a rainbow of fresh fruits and vegetables, garlic, ginger, nuts, tea, and olive oil. Include fatty fish, such as tuna and salmon, chia seeds, walnuts and flaxseeds in your daily eating plan, which are good sources omega-3 fatty acids. All these healthy foods are available in the grocery section of your local Walmart!
· Know which supplements may be helpful to you
Supplementation with Vitamin D, MSM, turmeric, Sam-e and Omega-3 fatty acids has shown promising results in studies relating to joint health. Probably the greatest and most impressive amount of research has been conducted on the use of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. When used together, they can help protect and maintain cartilage, along with reducing joint discomfort. Cosmin DS is a popular, trademarked combination of high quality glucosamine and chondroitin, specifically used in clinical trials. Before you hit the Walmart pharmacy to grab it and possibly some of these other helpful products, discuss them with your doctor and registered dietitian to confirm they are an appropriate option for you.
Hope these tips have been helpful and I wish you a lifetime of happy and healthy joints! Also, for more information on this topic and coupons for Cosamin DS at Walmart, check out Dr. Lori Shemek’s great article HERE!!