Supporting your joints
New Zealand’s favourite wellbeing expert answers readers’ questions about their health.
Question: I want to support my joints with supplements. I already eat well and exercise regularly but osteoarthritis is in my family so I want to do some additional things to help my joints. Thank you, Anne
Hi Anne, You are right to be taking care of your eating and your movement. Good on you. To answer your question about supplements, vitamins A, C and E are all potent antioxidants. They help the body to fight free radicals that we generate each day from our exposure to ‘‘pollutants’’, as well as from inflammation in the body caused by stress. Some studies have shown them to benefit joint health.
Glucosamine is an amino sugar naturally produced by the body. It is one of the building blocks of cartilage. Glucosamine comes in two forms – glucosamine sulfate and glucosamine hydrochloride. It is often found in joint care supplements in combination with chondroitin. Chondroitin is also a natural substance found in the body. It is believed to help draw water and nutrients into the cartilage, keeping it healthy and sponge-like. There is some evidence to suggest that glucosamine and chondroitin are helpful in the treatment and management of some joint conditions. Question: I don’t understand why I can’t cut back on how much sugar I eat. Can you please give me some tips to get started? Thanks, Elaine. Hi Elaine, Here are three tips: 1. Fuel yourself for longer. For far too long people have been afraid to incorporate good fats in their diets, due to the false belief that ‘‘fat makes you fat’’. Try adding more fat to your meals, particularly at lunch, in the form of avocado, nuts, organic butter, coconut, tahini or oily fish, and observe if your desire for sweet foods mid-afternoon diminishes. Good fats slow down the release of glucose into your blood stream meaning you actually stay full for longer. 2. Slow down. If you amp yourself up on caffeine, live on adrenaline due to your perception of pressure and urgency, or push your body intensely during cardiovascular exercise, your body will predominantly burn glucose and you will crave sugar to replenish your stores. Slow down! I cannot emphasise enough the importance of activating the rest and repair arm of the nervous system – known as the parasympathetic nervous system – using breath-focused movement, which allows your body to use body fat as a fuel. Not only will you feel a greater sense of calm, you are also far less likely to experience hunger that results in Email your questions for Dr Libby to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note, only a selection of questions can be answered.
you eating the entire contents of the pantry.
3. Explore the emotional connections to sweetness.
For some people, a craving for sugar has more to do with an emotional need that isn’t being met. ‘‘Something sweet’’ is often perceived as a symbol of joy and we become conditioned to want something sweet to feel complete or satisfied. Identify other nonfood-related activities that give you a feeling of sweetness and joy and incorporate more of these into your life. Watch your children sleep and notice how precious they are, get up and watch the sunrise every morning for a week, or book a getaway with friends – whatever spins your tyres – and notice if having things to look forward to, diminishes your sugar cravings.
Studies have shown that vitamins A, C and E can help joint health.