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Skeleton key

Joint and bone soreness and pain can be debilitating, but Rude Health magazine’s health store experts have some great advice for how to get relief using natural options

Stiffness in the joints can be a warning sign of inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, rheumatism, osteoporosis or osteopenia,” says Frederika Le Cain from health store Loop de Loop in Castletownbere, Co Cork. “If you have a family history of any such condition it is wise to consult your health giver for a diagnosis, and work closely with your local health store who can advise you on suitable supplements and dietary changes.”

“A number of factors are linked to joints and bone issues,” says Lucy Kerr of health store The Good Earth in Kilkenny. “These include age, where collagen that builds cartilage in joints starts to deteriorate; old injuries; inflammation in the body; autoimmune conditions; a sedentary lifestyle and poor diet; excess pressure on joints by overexercising; and conditions such as arthritis, osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia.”

What’s the role of acid?

“As your body burns foods for energy production, waste products are produced which are acidic in nature,” says Frederika Le Cain. “A healthy metabolism can neutralise these acids and excrete waste materials, however if your system becomes unbalanced this may not happen and inflammation occurs. Lactic acid and high histamine levels contribute to an acidic build-up around the joint area, causing an inflammatory response in the body. Mineral deficiency can also contribute to an acidic system. Crucial alkalising minerals such as calcium, magnesium, zinc and boron are lost through perspiration and urination. These are crucial for bone formation and health, so it is important that we supplement these routinely.”

“When acids in the body build up the body tries to buffer them by taking alkaline minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium from our bones and other organs to help dissolve the acidic compounds and eliminate them safely,” says Lucy Kerr. “This process over time can weaken our bones and other vital organs. Stress, diet choices, excess alcohol, overuse of antibiotics, lack of sleep, and poor elimination of toxins from the body can all contribute to high acidity levels.”

Should we become more alkaline?

“If the body is too acidic a variety of health problems can occur,” says Lucy Kerr. “High acidity can cause joint and muscle pain, chronic inflammation, fatigue, skin problems and digestive issues. Many diseases thrive in acidic environments.”

“Typically our modern diet contains highly acid-forming foods,” says Frederika Le Cain. “A more alkaline diet will help to alleviate pain and inflammation. Protein-rich foods such as meat can leave a highly acidic residue behind. Limiting meat consumption to good quality produce from your local butcher once or twice a week will make a big difference. If you choose to go meat-free and concentrate on plant-based protein sources such as quinoa and tofu this will reduce the acidic load further.”

How can we do this?

“Avoid processed meats completely and where possible include oily fish in the diet for its omega-3 content,” says Frederika Le Cain. “Mackerel, sardines and salmon are particularly rich in omega-3. Cut back on caffeine-rich drinks such as coffee and black tea and introduce green tea, white tea, Roibos tea and herbal teas to your day. Your local health shop will carry a wide selection of these.”

“By trying to include more alkaline foods in our diet we can encourage our body to become less acidic,” says Lucy Kerr. “Alkaline foods include fruit – bananas, avocados, grapes, pears and apricots; vegetables – beetroot, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, kale, pea and sweet potatoes; oils – olive, avocado and coconut; nuts and seeds – almonds, cashew, linseed, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower; cereals – millet and quinoa; fermented soya such as tempeh; green powders such as spirulina, wheatgrass and chlorella. Try to reduce refined sugars, processed foods, corn, grains, animal products, caffeine and alcohol.”

What supplements would you recommend for bones and joints?

“There are a number of supplements for bone support that contain calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, zinc, boron, protease, lipase and amylase,” say Frederika Le Cain. “Other good ingredients are turmeric, ginger, black pepper and hyaluronic acid.”

“I would recommend the following helpers for bones and joints,” says Lucy Kerr.

Boswellia – pain relieving, anti-inflammatory

Bromelain – an enzyme that supports the digestion of protein which is needed to repair damaged tissue

Calcium – vital for healthy bones

Collagen – builds cartilage in the joints which deteriorates as we age

Glucosamine – helps maintain cartilage structure

Magnesium – vital for healthy bones

Omega-3 – anti-inflammatory properties and aids in lubrication and suppleness of joints

Turmeric – pain relieving and anti-inflammatory

Vitamin D3 – aids calcium absorption in the body

Vitamin B12 – keeps homocysteine levels down, an amino acid linked to bone fracture.

Ask your local health store for a bone-friendly supplement as there are a variety on the market.

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