Processed food is extraordinarily difficult for our bodies to handle. One way we feel the impact is with an increase in joint pain. The primary reason that food is so critical to the joints is straightforward when considering the body mechanically: if a person is obese, the additional pounds represent an increase in the load that the joints must bear.
"One of the major side effects of the obesity epidemic is a tremendous amount of arthritis," University of Kentucky endocrinology professor Philip A. Kern, MD, told Everyday Health. "Years and years of wear and tear on the joints are only exacerbated by carrying more weight."
Excess fat additionally is inflammatory, University of Texas nutrition professor Lona Sandon advised in Sharecare. Those with osteoarthritis and other forms of knee or hip pain know that reducing inflammation is one of the cornerstones of pain management.
Keep in mind that identifying your hip or knee pain triggers is not a one-size-fits-all project. According to Sandon, the following three typical triggers should generally be avoided. If you want a more personally compelling reason to stay away from them, try one of the trigger foods in isolation and pay close attention to your body’s response.
Joint pain trigger #1 – Salt
Americans really tend to overdo it with salt. We get 3400 mg daily, which is more than 40% above the recommended daily allowance. Studies have shown that consuming lots of sodium places us at greater risk of high blood pressure. Plus, excess salt intake contributes to fluid retention, leading to decreased range of motion in the joints.
Joint pain trigger #2 – Dairy
While the evidence on salt is more established, scientists disagree on dairy. However, some people with knee and hip pain say that removing it from their diet has been helpful. One aspect that’s potentially problematic is arachidonic acid, a component of animal fat. It’s also possible that those with negative reactions are responding to the whey protein or casein that are common to dairy products.
Joint pain #3 – Gluten
You are probably familiar with the growing number of options labeled “gluten-free” at restaurants and grocery stores. Unfortunately, gluten occurs in the standard version of many of our favorite foods: pizza (the dough), hamburgers/sandwiches (buns/bread), and pancakes (the whole thing). However, if you are gluten-intolerant, knee pain is just one of the many symptoms you may experience when you eat too many carbs. Specifically, gluten occurs in wheat, barley, and rye.
Along with avoiding the above foods, it helps to add anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving items to your diet. According to Michigan State University, some of the strongest ones are foods containing omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, green tea, and cherries.
Although nutritionists and other scientists increasingly believe that changing your diet can have a profound impact on pain conditions, nutrition isn’t the only strategy for pain relief and recovery. Contact us now to eliminate the need for surgery and restore normal joint function.