Monthly Archives: November 2017
If you suffer from joint pain, then you know from experience just how painful and immobilizing it can be.
However, by eating the rights foods and taking the correct supplements, you can prevent joint pain from arising and help manage inflammation that can make joint conditions worse. This preventative approach to maintaining healthy joints – can help keep you enjoying the physical activities you love the most, for a long time to come!
Foods That Promote Good Joint Health
One of the best remedies for helping to alleviate or preventing joint pain is eating the rights foods. Generally speaking, these are foods that are high in nutrients like Vitamin D, Omega-3 fatty acids and foods with antioxidant properties. Joint pain is almost always associated with inflammation and swelling, so foods that have anti-inflammatory qualities like dark leafy greens, dark berries and spices are always a good choice too!
Some of the best foods to eat if you want to reap the benefits of these nutrients are fatty fish like herring, cod, sardines and wild salmon. Nuts like walnuts and almonds and seeds like pumpkin and ground flax – can be great anti-inflammatory food choices too!
Some other great foods to include in your diet to maintain healthy and pain-free joints are cauliflower, broccoli, onions, leeks, cherries, pineapple, papaya, kiwis, lemons and other citrus fruit, ginger, squash, mushrooms and sweet peppers.
What Should I Avoid?
There are also foods to avoid when you suffer from joint pain and discomfort. Some foods contain inflammatory qualities, which cause or aggravate joint pain and swelling. The major triggers are alcohol, sugar, fried food, meats from grain fed animals, wheat, trans-saturated fats, and sodas. Try to avoid these foods to keep painful flare-ups away and limit discomfort.
Supplements that prevent or offer relief from joint pain and discomfort
Getting all the nutrients required to promote good joint health from your diet alone, is ideal. However, this is not always possible! With the fast-paced, busy lifestyles we lead today it is hard to get enough nutrients from our food to meet nutrient amounts associated with a helpful decline in degenerative conditions.
This is where nutritional supplements for joint health come in. As always, before taking any new natural healthcare product, you should consult your doctor or pharmacist about any potential contraindications.
Glucosamine – Glucosamine is a compound that supplies the joints in your body with the materials they need to heal damage resulting from joint injury or osteoarthritis. In particular, glucosamine sulfate is required by your body to manufacture a certain essential mucopolysaccharide found in joint cartilage. The good news is that it glucosamine is absorbed by your body quickly and easily.
Chondroitin Sulfate – this compound is another major ingredient of joint cartilage, specifically, it acts as the connective tissue between the tough protein strands that makes your cartilage elastic and stretchy as well as strong. Studies suggest it may promote healing and rebuilding of bone, and is effective in relieving symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) – this is another raw material that the body utilizes in order to build cartilage. In particular, it is an ingredient of the structural proteins found in your skin, hair — and joints – and is an abundant source of sulfur – which is a key component of collagen, which helps from cartilage. Studies suggest that MSM could be just as effective in the treatment of arthritis as the aforementioned supplements.
Calcium – did you know that calcium is the most frequently occurring mineral in your body? Most of it is situated in the bones and teeth – so if you want to maintain healthy bones and prevent osteoarthritis, then a good calcium supplement is the way to go.
Vitamin C – this substance is most well known as an antioxidant, which protects the body from roaming free radicals, but it also has a role to play in maintaining strong connective tissue, including the bones, tendons, and ligaments that make up your body’s joints. It is also needed to make collagen, an essential part of the cartilage lining your joints.
Curcumin – is a phytochemical derived from the spice turmeric. For thousands of years, turmeric has been one of the most commonly prescribed Ayurvedic remedies to relieve joint-related inflammation. Curcuminoids in turmeric slow the enzymes that cause inflammation and give the spice it’s bright yellow colour.
There is a host of scientific studies linking magnesium to many different health conditions, but reviewing these effects one by one is overwhelming and confusing. Instead, it’s more helpful to look at magnesium’s underlying physiological mechanisms. Understanding what magnesium does fundamentally will let us better understand how insufficient magnesium levels might affect our bodies and our daily lives.
Magnesium’s hundreds of roles can be roughly categorized into four basic functions. One of those functions is activating enzymes and another is creating cellular energy. Let’s break down how these processes actually happen and take a closer look at the relationship between magnesium enzymes and energy.
We are kept alive by trillions of chemical reactions that occur in the body. Carbohydrates are broken up and harvested for energy. New tissue is created. Cellular waste products are removed. New strands of DNA are synthesized. This collection of chemical processes is called metabolism.
The speed a reaction occurs will depend on factors like temperature, pressure, solubility and concentration of molecules. We use these factors every day. You might notice that sugar dissolves in hot water faster, or putting food in the refrigerator will slow the rate of decay. When you make a campfire, a hotter flame will burn wood faster.
Our metabolism needs to occur at a certain speed to stay alive. But we don’t have the liberty of turning the body into a raging furnace to speed up these reactions (not without damaging many things). That’s where enzymes come in.
Enzymes are bits of protein that catalyze and regulate almost all metabolic reactions. As catalysts, they reduce the energy needed to spark a chemical reaction and speed up reactions. Without enzymes, reactions that would normally take milliseconds might take hours or days.
Some enzymes require an additional ions or molecules called cofactors to function. Without a cofactor bound to its structure, an enzyme may float dormant, unable to catalyze any reactions.
Cofactor for Enzymatic Pathways
Magnesium is a cofactor for several important enzymes in the body, like DNA/RNA polymerases, used to transcribe new DNA/RNA strands, and guanylate cyclase used to regulate the movement of minerals across cell membranes.
A 1968 estimate suggested that magnesium was a required cofactor for 300 enzymatic reactions. This figure is found in many medical texts and quoted by many scientific papers. Since then, many more enzymes that rely on magnesium have been identified. A search of today’s enzymatic databases reveals over 600 enzymes that magnesium is a cofactor for and another 200 enzymes that need magnesium to be activated.
Magnesium, Enzymes and Cellular Energy
Arguably the most important enzymes that magnesium is a cofactor for are the ones that produce cellular energy. These enzymes form a series of pathways (glycolysis, Kreb’s cycle, phosphorylation) that convert organic compounds like glucose sugars into smaller molecules called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP acts as our main unit of cellular energy.
Every one of our hundred trillion cells manufactures ATP to store and shuttle intracellular energy. ATP stores a tremendous amount of potential energy in the bonds of the second and third phosphate groups. When the cell wants to carry out a function like cellular division or transport molecules across the cell membrane, it breaks this bond and releases the energy.
We use a tremendous amount of ATP all the time. The typical adult only stores about 50g of ATP in the body so each ATP molecule is recycled over a thousand times a day.
To get an idea of just how much we use, let’s look at some back-of-the-napkin calculations. (If you’d like to avoid the math, feel free to skip ahead!)
Assume a typical adult needs to eat approximately 2500 calories of food every day. That’s equivalent to consuming 10,460kJ of energy from our food. Let’s also assume all the metabolic pathways that convert food into ATP energy are about 50% efficient. So of the 10,460kJ of food energy we consume, 5230kJ ends up as ATP. One mole of ATP releases around 50kJ of energy in our cells, meaning the body goes through 5230/50 = 104.6 moles of ATP every day. How much is that by weight? One mole of ATP is 507 grams. 104.6 moles x 507 grams/mole = 53,032 grams or 53kg of ATP processed every day.
Our calculations estimate that 53kg of ATP is used every day. That’s a lot of ATP, about three-quarters the body weight of your average adult human! Luckily, humans are really good at recycling and recharging spent ATP (adenosine diphosphate or ADP) through those previously mentioned metabolic pathways. The typical adult only stores about 50g of ATP in the body so each ATP molecule is recycled over a thousand times daily! Since these pathways are magnesium dependent, we need quite a bit of magnesium on hand to fuel a continuous production of ATP.
Magnesium = ATP
Since these pathways (glycolysis, Kreb’s cycle, phosphorylation) are magnesium dependent, we need quite a bit of magnesium on hand to fuel a continuous production of ATP.
Blood clotting (intravascular thrombosis, heart attacks and strokes)
Clotting is a normal response to blood vessel damage. When a blood vessel wall is damaged, tiny blood cells called platelets activate. These platelets adhere to a damaged surface and release sealing agents like fibrin. Magnesium regulates the activation of these platelets by controlling calcium levels and maintaining cell receptors. That’s why magnesium is sometimes called an anticoagulant.
Magnesium deficiencies increase the risk of unnecessary platelet activation, forming more clots in blood vessels. These clots may block blood flow to the brain or heart, increasing the risk of strokes and heart attacks.
High Blood Pressure
Besides preventing blood clots, magnesium also acts as a natural vasodilator. Magnesium, as a calcium antagonist, allows the heart muscles and the smooth muscles of the arteries to rest and relax, reducing blood pressure. If there is insufficient magnesium, these blood vessels constrict, raising blood pressure.
Magnesium’s role in maintaining healthy blood pressure has a lot to do with its ability to activate the sodium-potassium pump. Even if a magnesium deficiency occurred and a sufficient supply of potassium was available, it would likely not make it into the cell to allow for proper sodium regulation.
Like elsewhere in the body, magnesium regulates concentrations of potassium and calcium in the heart as well. These concentrations control and coordinate the rhythm of electrical signal and muscle contractions.
The Canadian Cardiovascular Society recommends that hospitals administer magnesium intravenously in order to reduce the risks of atrial fibrillation.