The Five Best Foods for Joint Pain

Proteolytic enzymes for knee pain

These readily-available foods are the natural secret to combatting debilitating joint conditions like knee pain and hip pain.

Pain is one of the most difficult side effects of arthritis – it can stop you from living to your full potential and it can be frustratingly difficult to treat.

Whether your joint pain is connected to rheumatoid or osteoarthritis, studies show a link between the severe discomfort associated with the condition and chronic inflammation. While acute inflammation is a naturally occurring immune response that helps protect the body from infection, injury, and disease, chronic and ongoing inflammation causes more harm than good.

Medicines can help with pain and chronic inflammation, but many medical practitioners are increasingly recommending lifestyle changes like eating differently as an effective method to reduce joint pain without unhelpful side effects.

These are five foods proven to fight inflammation and reduce joint pain.

#1 – Papaya and Pineapple

Fresh papaya and pineapple contain high levels of proteolytic enzymes. A 2008 study on proteolytic enzymes showed they could be more effective in reducing inflammation than aspirin. Another study on bromelain – a specific proteolytic enzyme found in pineapple – proved that it reduced pain in people with osteoarthritis.

While pineapple and papaya are particularly abundant sources of proteolytic enzymes, other foods like kiwifruit, ginger, sauerkraut, and kimchi also contain high levels of this joint pain fighter.

#2 – Fish and nuts

Salmon, tuna, sardines, and nuts are high in Omega-3 fatty acids. Studies measuring the effects of Omega-3 have shown it to be effective in lowering inflammation and reducing joint pain, including stiffness, swelling, and tenderness. Salmon, tuna, and sardines aren’t the only fish high in Omega-3 – mackerel and herring are also good sources, but for those who don’t like fish or nuts, supplements are available instead.

#3 – Olive oil

Olive oil contains a compound called oleocanthanl, which is naturally occurring but has many of the same health benefits as anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen. A paper summarising the benefits of oleocanthal reported that it is effective in tackling degenerative joint diseases like arthritis. Some experts hypothesise that the anti-inflammatory properties of oleocanthal is one reason the Mediterranean Diet – which includes lots of olive oil – is so effective.  

#4 – Leafy Greens

Green vegetables such as broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and cabbage are packed full of an antioxidant called sulforaphane. In 2018, a study considering sulforaphane’s effect on rheumatoid arthritis found it was an effective alternative treatment and research in 2017 showed sulforaphane could improve mobility for people with osteoarthritis. To add more sulforaphane to your everyday diet, try eating more of the vegetables mentioned above as well as adding produce like kale and cauliflower to meals.

#5 – Berries

Like leafy greens, fruits including blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries are rich in antioxidants that can help fight knee pain, hip pain, and other joint pain. These berries also contain anthocyanins – another compound that has been shown to reduce inflammation – meaning they pack a double punch when it comes to providing nutritional support for arthritis.

The Five Best Exercises for Knee Arthritis Pain Relief

exercise for knee arthritis

Pain is one of life’s great limiters, but thankfully – when it comes to osteoarthritis in the knees – there are some simple exercises that can reduce your pain so you can concentrate on living life to its fullest.

Arthritis can be an incredibly painful and debilitating condition. For many people, living with knee arthritis means missing out on the joy of important experiences and events.

Happily, there is a simple and evidence-based way of easing the pain and getting life back on track.

A 2017 review examining the clinical effectiveness of physiotherapy exercises for knee osteoarthritis (OA) found that, “exercise represents an inexpensive, nonpharmacological, nonsurgical intervention providing beneficial effects for pain and physical function for knee OA patients”.

Physical therapy for osteoarthritis reduces pain in two ways – firstly, by helping the joint regain or retain the full range of motion, and then by strengthening the muscles around the joint to offer extra support.

Keep reading to discover the best exercise for osteoarthritis of the knees – all of which can be done quickly and easily at home.

#1 – Straight leg raises

Every osteoarthritis exercise program for the knees should include straight leg raises because they strengthen quadriceps – the muscles attached to the knee joints.

  • Start by lying down with one leg bent at the knee and the other lying straight.
  • Slowly raise the straight leg until both knees are at the same level. Make sure you keep your leg straight.
  • Slowly return your straight leg to the ground.
  • Repeat 5-10 times on each side. If you feel uncomfortable at first, start with the number of repetitions that feels comfortable and slowly work up to doing more.

#2 – Mini squats

Squats are great OA knee exercises because they build up your glutes and the muscles around your thighs, giving your knees better support.

  • Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. You can hold the back of a chair or a bench for extra balance if you find that helpful.
  • Slowly bend your knees until your body has lowered about 10cm. This exercise shouldn’t be painful, so if you are feeling pain, make the squat shallower until you have regained some strength and flexibility.
  • Keep your feet flat and make sure your knees don’t go past your toes.
  • Slowly tighten your buttocks as you straighten your knees.
  • Repeat 10-15 times. You can increase the number of times you do this per day as you become stronger.

#3 – Hamstring stretch

These are an effective osteoarthritis physiotherapy treatment for the knees as they help to stretch and strengthen your hamstrings, which are the muscles on the back of the legs that attach to the knees.

  • Lie flat on your back.
  • Keep one leg on the floor and lift the other as high as you comfortably can while keeping both legs as straight as possible.
  • Intertwine your hands around the back of your thigh.
  • Pull back gently, while keeping your hips on the floor, until you feel a stretch in the hamstring.
  • Count to five and release, lowering the leg slowly to the floor.
  • Repeat five times for each leg.

#4 – Mobilisation with movement

New Zealand practitioner Brian Mulligan created a new approach to physiotherapy for osteoarthritis that has been adopted around the globe. Among his many techniques is this exercise that helps regain knee movement by supporting the tibia bone in its natural rotation that takes place as the knee bends.

  • While standing, place one foot onto a chair or other raised platform with a bent knee. Make sure you are balanced and comfortable.
  • Make sure your bent leg is aligned with the centre of your knee in line with the centre of your foot.
  • Wrap your hands around your calf just below the knee.
  • Hold firmly and twist inward, toward your other leg. This is not a large movement and shouldn’t be painful.
  • Bend your knee 10 times while holding the twist in place.
  • Repeat on the other side.  

#5 – Knee extensions

These are some of the best exercises for arthritic knees because they help regain the motion of straightening the knee, something that many people begin to lose as the condition worsens.

  • Begin by sitting on a chair and repeatedly extending one leg out in front until it is as straight as you can get it.
  • Once any pain reduces and you feel comfortable, take the same leg and place the heel on a chair in front of you with the knee slightly bent.
  • Straighten your leg and, if necessary, push gently above your knee with your hands to help the leg straighten. You may feel some lowl-level pain, but this should reduce with repetitions.
  • Repeat 10-15 times with each leg.

It’s Time to Do The Bucket List

bucket list examples

Stop waiting until tomorrow. Start ticking off your bucket list items today and discover how achievements and goals-oriented thinking can make your life more exciting and also longer, happier, and healthier.

No matter what life stage you’re at, a bucket list can feel abstract.

It’s easy to think of the compilation of your most exciting goals as something for the distant future, rather than something to work toward in the present. But tackling your life bucket list now can result in a surprising array of health benefits that, in turn, could gift you extra years in which to do even more extraordinary things.

Here’s Fit4100’s top three reasons to stop procrastinating and start crossing things off your ‘My Bucket List’ spreadsheet today.

#1 – The spin-off benefits of bucket list motivation

Whether your bucket list is highly physical and filled with plans to climb Mt Kilimanjaro and jump from a plane, or errs more toward intellectual achievements like launching a business and reaching Grandmaster status in chess, you need to be on top of your game to fulfil your goals.

Making a commitment to ticking off your bucket list items in a set time frame will provide you with the boost you need to make a variety of better health choices.

Suddenly, you’ll have a concrete and specific reason to do your daily mindfulness practice, eat better, or stay more active.

With a bucket list goal on the horizon, being motivated to make positive change becomes easy instead of arduous.

#2 – Bucket list health and longevity benefits

Research shows that being active and engaged has wide-reaching health benefits. Common bucket list examples, like travel and fitness goals, are also opportunities for the kind of engagement that leads to better health and longevity.

In 2019, a study published in PNAS specifically linked the psychological attribute of optimism to living a longer life, with the authors stating that optimism is related to an “11 to 15% longer life span, on average, and to greater odds of… living to the age of 85 or beyond”.

Optimism is related to an “11 to 15% longer life span, on average, and to greater odds of… living to the age of 85 or beyond”.

Achieving long-term goals like those found on your bucket list is an ideal way to foster these longevity-inducing positive feelings.

Research also shows people learning new skills, staying active, and socially engaged have better health outcomes.

In 2017, a study of older adults learning to use tablet devices found that the  development of new skills – like those you might learn in service of a bucket list goal – has “the potential to reduce or delay cognitive changes associated with ageing”.

 #3 – Create the bucket list virtuous cycle

It might be that you and a friend or partner work through a couple bucket list together, or that your individual life bucket list has been something you’ve developed since you were a child.

No matter the contents or set-up of your bucket list, achieving some of its goals will help you learn more about yourself and what you really want from life.

Armed with this personal information about yourself, you can set new, even more relevant goals and begin to create a virtuous bucket list cycle.

Eventually, every achievement will lead you to discovering a new and exciting goal – supplying you with an endless stream of optimism, motivation, and engagement that will keep you happy and healthy in mind, body and soul.  

What is Mediterranean Food?

mediterranean diet foods

It’s more than fish, nuts, and olive oil and it’s proven to help you live a longer and healthier life.

The Mediterranean Diet: More Than a Food Prescription

It was after WWII that American physiologist Ancel Keys launched his landmark Seven Countries Study. This wide ranging and ambitious project examined the lifestyle of select populations around the world over decades – evaluating how key aspects of their lives correlated with heart disease.

One of the most resonant ideas to come out of the Study was what Keys called the Mediterranean Diet – an eating pattern observed in communities near the Mediterranean Sea, including Southern Italy, Greece, and the Middle East. 

Subsequent research has proven that this eating pattern is not only associated with better heart health, but also metabolic and cognitive improvements and higher quality of life, including into older age.

While the Mediterranean Diet is now hugely popular and is prescribed by medical professionals around the world to help tackle and prevent chronic life-shortening diseases, it has one major drawback – it can be difficult to fully understand.

In part, this is because a Mediterranean Diet menu – unlike other meal plans – is not proscriptive. Instead of employing strict measures like counting calories or forbidding certain foods, the Diet is based around a series of guidelines that are more like a lifestyle than a nutrition intervention.

It’s important to understand the Mediterranean Diet fully because researchers have found that it is an example of ‘food synergy’ – where benefits result from holistically adopting an eating pattern.

Simply cherry-picking an element – for example, by adding olive oil to your food – won’t result in the same protective health boost as embracing the full Mediterranean Diet.

Making a Mediterranean Diet Menu

Explanatory tools like the Mediterranean Diet pyramid can help you develop your own Mediterranean Diet recipes. They make it clear that legumes, whole grains, and vegetables should form the bulk of your meals, while seafood and dairy can be added regularly and red meats should only be eaten rarely.

But, that guidance still leaves room for confusion. At Fit4100, we have developed three golden rules that make sticking to the Mediterranean Diet easy.

1. Add Vegetables and Variety to your Mediterranean Food

Vegetables and fruits should make up at least half of your meals, while whole grains should be another quarter. The final quarter should be healthy proteins – things like beans, nuts, or fish, and occasionally poultry.

This sounds easy, but in practice it can feel repetitious sticking to these proportions by cooking the same Mediterranean Diet recipes over and over again. Introduce variety by exploring meal ideas from Mediterranean countries other than Greece and Italy – perhaps make falafel or consider a Moroccan tagine for an interesting mid-week meal.

2. Not All Fats are Equal

A Mediterranean Diet meal plan often includes a relatively large amount of fat – up to 42 per cent of daily caloric intake can come from fat, but almost all of this is from “good” fat sources like olives, olive oil, avocado, nuts, and fish.

These foods contain unsaturated fat while produce like dairy, red meat, and many processed foods tend to be high in saturated fat, which should be avoided when following the Mediterranean Diet

3. The Mediterranean Diet is more than a Lifestyle

While using Mediterranean Diet recipes that are built around vegetables, whole grains, good fats, and fruit is the first step, it’s equally important to make good lifestyle choices.

The Mediterranean Diet is often called a lifestyle intervention because it’s not just about what you eat.

Alongside eating well, staying active through regular exercise and fostering strong social networks by spending time with friends and family are key aspects of the Mediterranean Diet.  

Mindful Eating: A Fit4100 Beginner’s Guide

how to practice mindful eating

Mindfulness and eating might seem like a strange pairing, but changing the way you experience food doesn’t just make eating more enjoyable – it can also result in surprising health benefits and better lifestyle choices.

What is Mindful Eating?

Mindful eating is a simple adjustment that can revolutionise the way you eat and think about food. It draws on the traditions of mindfulness to help you more fully experience each mouthful and scientific study has shown this change can improve health and foster better eating habits. 

Practicing mindful eating is about using the basic skills of mindfulness every time you eat. It involves placing your full attention on the experience of eating without self judgement or criticism.

How to practice Mindful Eating

Creating a mindful diet does not mean choosing particular foods and rejecting others. Instead, the emphasis is on how you think and feel while eating.

Building a non-judgmental and healthy relationship with food is the heart of the mindful eating diet’s success. Many people find that once conscious eating becomes routine, they naturally make different choices about what, why, and how often they eat.

The first step in creating a mindful eating program is practicing basic mindfulness skills. Use the Fit4100 Mindfulness Guide and spend two minutes each day developing your ability to be present and self-aware in the moment. Once you feel comfortable, extend your practice to eating using these tips on how to do mindful eating –  

1) Start small

Begin by choosing only one meal each day or one meal each week as your ‘mindful meal’. Allow yourself time to develop the habit of mindful eating, rather than pressuring yourself and becoming frustrated.

2) Set a time goal

Try to extend the time you spend eating. Instead of eating quickly in front of the computer, your phone, or the TV, set a goal to take 15 or 20 minutes to finish the meal. Use the time to chew every mouthful thoroughly, experience how the flavours develop, and pause between bites to check-in on your thoughts.

3) Use all your senses

 Flavour is only one part of the experience of eating. Engage all of your senses in your meal by concentrating individually on the colours, textures, aromas, and even the sounds that are connected with your food.

4) Think about your food more holistically

Another key part of the mindfulness-based eating solution is gaining a deeper understanding of food. Use the time you are preparing and eating your meal to think about how your food was grown – the labour, water, sunshine, and soil that supported it – and how the cooking has transformed its form and flavour.

What are the benefits of Mindful Eating?

There are two ways mindful eating improves health.

The first is the direct physiological benefits that come from eating more slowly. The process of digestion relies on hormonal signals sent between the gut and the brain. Research on Mindful eating shows that it takes an average of twenty minutes for the brain to identify that enough food has been eaten. Practicing mindful and intuitive eating allows time for this signal to be received, helping you to better judge when you are full and avoid over-eating, which can lead to a series of digestive problems.

The second group of benefits arising from mindful eating stem from changes in behavior and are proven to have a significant impact on health. Experts like psychologist Jean Kristeller say this is because mindful eating creates a “moment of choice” between the urge to eat and the act of eating, which allows people to cut down on instances of emotional eating and to make better choices about what they eat.

This idea is backed by research – including this 2013 study on Mindful Eating that found mindful eaters chose smaller portion sizes and this 2011 study that indicated mindful eating techniques could decreases instances of binging. 

While eating in this way is not intended as a method of mindfulness for weight loss, there is strong evidence of a connection between mindful eating and shedding kilos. Sustainable maintenance of a healthy weight is a key factor in better aging.