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Joint Health – Strategies to reduce joint damage and promote joint healing
Nothing works to make you fit if your joints give out; you can keep them healthy if you feed them the right nutrients and prevent needless damage.
There is no fitness without joints that work correctly and painlessly. Most people experience increasing joint discomfort beginning at some age, and worsening as we get older. It is a myth, however, that once they start to fail they can’t be fixed. Our joints can and do constantly repair and rebuild themselves. But like everything else, with age the process slows and becomes less effective. If the rate of damage exceeds the rate of repair, your joints will degrade. So – minimize the damage rate and optimize the repair mechanisms and they should work well for a lifetime.
What damages joints –
Mechanical damage heads the list, mostly accidental strains that tear or sever ligaments, fracture the bones within the joint or rip the cartilage or tendons; usually the result of sports or falls or collisions with something harder than us. When we’re young they heal most of the time, when we are older, they often come back to bite us.
Strategy – Give up the the risky games of youth with their uncontrolled opportunities for injury.
Next is the normal ‘wear & tear’: the joint surfaces abrade, get rough and start to hurt if we overdo it. The joint fluid loses its lubricating properties. The cartilage cushion or disks grow thinner, that loosens the joints and the geometry can become faulty, causing abnormal wear patterns.
Last, as we age, inflammation generally increases, often hitting the joints. Inflammation degrades the lubricating synovial fluid that fills the joints, and it degrades the ability of the synovial fluid to carry nutrients to the joint elements. Auto-immune processes like arthritis drastically accelerate this process.
What rebuilds joints –
Keeping the immune system educated so it doesn’t attack us is primary. Controlling inflammation is paramount, but the usual approach of taking anti-inflammitant drugs like aspirin is counter-productive because they, at the same time, have been proven to inhibit cartilage regrowth. A better approach is to use nutrients (foods, herbs and supplements) that fight inflammation using the body’s own mechanisms.
Strategy – Use immunomodulators to normalize immune function; use omega-3 fats, curcumin and vitamin D to lower inflammation, and antioxidants to reduce its damaging effects.
Then, we have to take in the materials that the joints are made from. Grandma did this with chicken soup, the whole carcass boiled for days to dissolve the cartilage materials. Most prehistoric habitats of man show bones with the ends chewed off, cracked open and the marrow sucked out. Today we like lean steaks with no gristle, and who knows what comes in a can of chicken soup.
Strategy – Take a comprehensive joint-health supplement even when your joints are healthy; prevent the degradation before it starts, take it for life (see below for suggestions).
Fortunately, the health food stores are loaded with products that supply the raw materials for joint repair, and can drastically enhance joint health for we aging fitness buffs. In this category we will bring you the information needed to repair your joints and keep them healthy. I developed chondromalacia in both knees in my mid thirties, which my orthopedist said was going to end my ability to do any significant leg exercise.
I decided he had to be wrong, researched the problem and found supplements and foods to bring them back to health, nearly forty years ago. So much more is available today; for most people, all it takes is information and your local health store. A great place to start is in our Disease and Healing Protocols category – go back to the home page and click the Disease and Healing Protocols category, then click on Arthritis for a very comprehensive overview of joint health and available joint aids. My knee problems started over forty years ago; I learned what to feed them and have kept them working well in spite of what some would consider insane workloads.
The most important concept to embrace is not to attempt to fix our joints by taking single ingredient products reputed to help joints. If you find the one ingredient your body is deficient in, you may get relief for a time, but then the next weakest link in the chain will jump up to get us as we age. What the joints need for health and optimum repair is abundant nutrition – don’t just overcome deficiencies, provide abundant nutrition. First and foremost are Omega-3 fats DHA and EPA and vitamin D to fight inflammation, and the old-fashioned magic bullet for this requirement is Cod Liver Oil. If that is unsavory then take Vitamin D3, with 1 mg of vitamin K2 complex per 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 (at 77, I need 20,000IU/day to keep my 25OHVitD levels above 70 ng/ml in winter), along with fish oil or Krill oil. Nothing comes close to the bang-for-the-buck of this remedy.
Next, eliminate all refined oils and anything that has the word ‘hydrogenated’ on its label. Eat fresh fruits and lots of vegetables and switch to grass-fed meats and free range eggs and poultry and eat plenty of fresh, wild-caught seafood. Use raw butter if you can legally buy it in your state; if not, use Kerry Gold butter from grass-fed Irish Cows – it has time-proven joint nutrients missing in the supermarket product. The Weston A. Price website offers credible information on the health factors in raw butter and mountains of valuable nutritional information – make it one of your often visited websites.
A recent breakthrough in understanding Arthritis –
A 2012 article from Life Extension reveals new understanding of the process by which joint inflammation rises with age, and how it can be knocked down for life. When our slippery joint surfaces become abraded, frayed collagen fibers become exposed, and stick out from the joint surface. Our immune system begins to see these as foreign invaders and starts to attack them. Joint inflammation is the result, and begins a process of progressive destruction of the cartilage over time, with severe pain and eventual destruction of the cartilage and underlying bone.
We have know for centuries that chicken soup calm this down, but didn’t know the underlying mechanism. Now we do! Chicken cartilage dissolved in the soup is seen by patches of tissue in our intestines called Payer’s Patches, which communicate with and train our immune cells that collagen is OK and not to get excited about its presence in joints. So if we eat enough chicken cartilage, our joints cool down, and the repair process can again get the upper hand, rebuilding the joints.
This is very good news , and as soon as I read it I changed supplements to the latest technology. Please read the article here, and consider trying Life Extension’s latest product for yourself (more on these below).
Strategy – Eat or supplement with all the known components of joint structure
For supplements, look for Glucosamine sulfate (not Glucosamine HCL – joints need abundant sulfur for health), Chondroitin sulfate, MSM (another sulfur-bearing compound), White willow bark, Boswellia, Hyaluronic acid, type-2 undenatured chicken cartilage and a recent discovery, AvoVida – a compound of avacado and soy unsaponifiables. Take a wide spectrum of antioxidants, including vitamins C and E, Resveratrol, Pterostilbene and Pycnogenol (whole-plant complexes work far better than synthetic). Gotu Kola and Hawthorn strengthen collagen. Calcium, Magnesium, Boron, Manganese, Strontium and Selenium are minerals essential to bone and joint health and repair, the last four in trace amounts only, but necessary.
Here are two products from Life Extension Foundation that I use to keep my joints working well: Arthromax Advanced with UC-II & ApresFlex, 60 capsules Arthro-Immune Joint Support, 60 vegetarian capsules. For overall suppression of the chronic inflammation that is part of the aging process, and is a major factor in joint failure, nothing works as well as a patented Curcumin Extract BCM-95 as found in Life Extension’s Black Cumin Seed Oil with Bio-Curcumin.
Our joints know how to repair themselves; they have been doing it for decades without problems in our youth. But the repair process slows with age; if our rate of damage exceeds our rate of repair, we will suffer joint degradation, and joint pain. If our immune system participates in damaging our cartilage and synovial fluid, degradation can be rapid and very debilitating. While effective supplements can be expensive, I consider the cost a terrific bargain compared to pain and limited mobility.