If your body is uncomfortable and your joints and bones feel tender or weak, there could be an underlying problem. Most of the time it could be from an illness like the flu and over time it will go away. However, the discomfort can also stem from arthritis or even bone loss, which are more of a temporary problem. Although medication and supplements would help combat these ailments, trying to change your diet could also help.
Corresponding Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LDauthor of The Sports Nutrition PlaybookIt’s important to note that bones and joints are not the same thing, and food doesn’t magically help with either problem.
“There are foods that, when eaten regularly over a period of time, can help fight inflammation and thus reduce the risk of joint pain from inflammation, but no foods relieve pain,” says Goodson. “When it comes to bones, this is especially true. There are foods that, when eaten regularly, can help you keep your bone density strong, but none that help bone pain or make it go away.”
Read on to see the foods that can either help fight inflammation and/or keep your bone density strong. Then be sure to check out the 5 Best Recipes to Prevent Aging Bones, Says Nutritionist.
If you want to lay the foundation for strong bones, don’t underestimate the power of cow’s milk.
“Believe it or not, a simple glass of cow’s milk is one of the best ways to keep your bones strong,” says Goodson. “An 8-ounce glass of milk provides you with 13 essential nutrients, including about 300 milligrams of calcium.”
Goodson goes on to explain that the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) of calcium for adults ages 19 to 50 is 1,000 milligrams per day. Therefore, eating three servings of dairy products, especially milk, can help achieve this goal.
“Importantly, while men ages 51 to 70 still only need 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day, women have increased calcium needs to maintain bone mineral density and should consume 1,200 milligrams per day,” explains Goodson. “From the age of 70, men and women should both consume 1,200 milligrams of calcium per day.”
Goodson goes on to say that milk is also fortified with vitamin D, which has 100 international units per 8-ounce glass.
“Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption,” suggests Goodson. “In fact, without adequate vitamin D intake, you only absorb about 10-15% of the calcium you get from your diet. Not to mention that milk contains other nutrients that support bone and tissue growth, like phosphorus and high-quality protein.”
If you don’t want to drink cow’s milk straight from a glass, there are other ways to incorporate this inexpensive milk into your diet. Goodson likes to try it in iced lattes or smoothies, which will help hydrate you and keep your bones strong as you age.
Cheese is a calcium-rich food that you can find in the milk duct.
“Dairy products are the best source of calcium in the American diet,” explains Goodson.
In addition to being a great source of calcium, cheese is also a great source of fats and proteins. It also contains large amounts of vitamins: vitamin A – needed to stimulate white blood cell production and activity and participate in bone remodeling – and vitamin B12 – needed to form red blood cells and DNA. It also plays a key role in the function and development of brain and nerve cells.
Goodman also suggests that 1.5 ounces of cheese also provides you with about 300 milligrams of dairy in your daily diet.
Don’t be put off by the word “fat”. Oily fish, also known as oily fish, is packed with omega-3 fats.
“Omega-3 fatty acids are known to help reduce inflammation around joints that leads to pain and stiffness,” she says Julie Upton, MS, RD.
Examples of oily fish are sardines, tuna and salmon.
“Salmon provides omega-3 fats and has been shown to help reduce inflammation, which is why some people may experience pain in their bones or joints,” he says Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDNFAND award-winning nutritionist and Wall Street Journal best-selling author The Family Immunity Cookbook.
Although Upton suggests the best sources are oily fish, she states that you can also get omega-3 fats in walnuts and flaxseed.
Yogurt is another dairy product that provides plenty of calcium to provide a foundation for strong bones. It’s a great breakfast, snack, or addition to a meal.
Goodman says that three-quarters cup of plain yogurt is enough to also hit the 300 mg dairy mark in your daily intake.
Removing yogurt from your diet can also potentially decrease your protein intake, which can contribute to weakening bones.
However, when choosing yogurts, be sure to find those that are low in sugar, as higher sugar yogurts cause other problems like inflammation, weight gain, and an increased risk of heart disease.
According to Amidor, olive oil is a source of monounsaturated fats, which have been linked to reducing inflammation.
Consuming extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) has been shown to help reduce inflammatory biomarkers associated with atherosclerosis — the hardening of arteries due to plaque buildup. Also, EVOO has similar anti-inflammatory properties to ibuprofen. This is due to its phenolic compound of oleocanthal.
Although Amidor is packed with benefits, consume olive oil in moderation.
“Be careful as calories are 120 per tablespoon,” says Amidor. “Choose to use 1 tablespoon per serving in recipes to keep calories under control.”