A joint is defined as a point of connection between two or more adjacent elements of the skeletal system. Considering the human body has 206 bones, with various structures at each connection, this means our bodies have hundreds of joints. That’s a lot of important structures to support!
In reality, when we think of supporting our joints, we are most often thinking about the major, movable joints like the spine, shoulder, elbow, hip, knee, and those in the hands and feet. Reduced range of motion or discomfort in some or all of those joints can seriously hinder daily activities and negatively impact a happy, healthy lifestyle.
Astonishingly, an estimated 24 percent of U.S. adults struggle with joint issues like arthritis, gout, lupus, fibromyalgia, and various forms of acute and chronic injury. Although there are times when medications, physical therapy, and surgical intervention are necessary to maintain or repair joint health, there are numerous lifestyle approaches that can provide care for your joints and help maintain their healthy structure and range of motion. So, let’s get to the good stuff!
Starting with the basics
You’ve heard it a million times, but we’ll say it again: A consistent exercise routine is essential to maintaining and improving health throughout your lifetime – and exercise and movement are particularly essential to healthy joints. Keeping the muscles that surround joints strong helps stabilize them and maintains a normal range of motion. Movement also increases circulation of blood to joint tissues and increases movement of synovial fluid, which lubricates joints.
If you are looking to increase or maintain your range of motion, then exercise is an essential step. If you’re already experiencing joint tissue damage, then stick to lower impact exercises, like swimming, biking, or rowing. If you need a bit of motivation boost, then improving flexibility and mobility can also help you age well. Bonus!
Attaining or maintaining a healthy weight is another essential element for joint health. The pressure on load-bearing joints, like the knee, is between three and six times your body weight. This means that every additional 10 pounds your body weighs, your knees are supporting 30-60 pounds of additional pressure. One study showed that for obese women, for every 11 pounds of weight lost, the risk of knee osteoarthritis decreased by more than 50 percent. The spine is estimated to carry four times the load pressure per pound of body weight. So, for every five pounds of weight you lose, you relieve 20 pounds of pressure from your spine.
Eating healthy, whole foods – like just about every other aspect of your health – supports joint health. Focus on omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods, like fish, nuts, and seeds, as well as plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. For some individuals already experiencing joint discomfort, avoidance of nightshade vegetables – which include tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and eggplant – can help reduce joint inflammation and pain. This won’t work for everyone, but you can try it.
Supplementing to support joint health
Although there are many great, natural options for supporting joint health, how do you know which ones are right for you? Let’s start with a review of some joint-friendly supplements.
- Collagen. Supplementing with collagen can increase the concentration of beneficial proteins in joint cartilage and synovial fluid, which helps to cushion and lubricate joints and support mobility.* By supporting a balance of inflammatory cytokines, collagen also helps reduce joint stiffness.*
- Glucosamine. Glucosamine is an important compound found in cartilage throughout your body. Supplementing with glucosamine helps maintain and protect healthy joint structures and supports mobility.*
- Chondroitin. Like glucosamine, chondroitin is a compound found naturally in joint cartilage. Chondroitin and glucosamine work together to protect joint structures from degradation.*
- Methyl Sulfonyl Methane (MSM). MSM provides antioxidant support to help maintain normal inflammatory responses in the joints.* MSM also plays a role in collagen and glucosamine production and supports other ingredients often found in joint support formulas.*
- Curcumin. Although the supplements above are best for supporting joint structure, this little golden root of sunshine is a powerhouse for supporting a healthy inflammatory response in the whole body, including the joints.* This means that curcumin is a great option for those who experience occasional aches, stiffness, and soreness in the joints.*
- Boswellia. Like curcumin, Boswellia (also known as frankincense) extract supports a healthy, balanced inflammatory response.*
- Bromelain. A proteolytic enzyme sourced from pineapple, bromelain helps reduce temporary/minor swelling following trauma or procedures.* This makes bromelain another great option for individuals who occasionally experience joint discomfort.*
So, what’s the best option for you?
We are so happy you asked! Now that you have a better understanding of which supplements best support joint health, we can explore the products that Thorne offers, which are designed for you and your specific needs!
Are you a high-impact junkie? Do you long for your feet to be on the pavement every weekend? Maybe you have a family history of joint issues, or some indication of joint changes and you want to make sure to protect them as long as you can. If you’re not experiencing a lot of discomfort, and you’re looking to support your joints for the long haul, then a formula focused on maintenance and protection of healthy joint structure might be your best option.* Start simple with a supplement that provides glucosamine alone, or take it up one notch with a Glucosamine & Chondroitin combo product that helps maintain healthy joint function and mobility, as well as supporting cartilage formation.*
Looking for structural joint support with a splash of the fountain of youth? Then take a look at Collagen Plus. Collagen Plus is a passion berry flavoured powder that offers collagen for bone and joint support, as well as for hair, skin, nails, and muscles.* With the addition of nicotinamide riboside (NR), Collagen Plus elevates your collagen powder to the next level. By increasing the level of NAD+, NR supports cellular energy and repair, benefits exercise efficiency, and helps resist the natural effects of aging.* Collagen Plus is also a great option for individuals who are at their daily capsule max, and would rather add their joint support to coffee, a smoothie, or a preferred beverage – sans capsules.
Keep yourself moving today and for years to come – with a healthy diet and exercise program and the right nutritional supplement for your individual needs and goals.* Dig deeper into Thorne products and discover what might best fit your health needs.