The Five Worst Foods for Joint Pain

Worst foods for joint pain

A few careful decisions at the dining table can make a world of difference for frustrating and exhausting joint pain.

It starts at about the age of 30 – that’s when we all begin to hear the warnings. We’re told that our mornings will soon be full of aches and pains and that our bodies will seize up.

This dire outlook doesn’t always come true, but for many people it does. Often, as we age, pain increases. One of the main culprits is arthritis and joint pain – in Australia about one in six people have arthritis and in America the figure is more like one in four.

But these changes aren’t just an inevitable part of getting older – research shows a strong link between joint pain and chronic inflammation.

The good news is that studies have found that the choices we make about food can affect inflammation and have an impact on how much joint pain we feel.

It’s useful to include foods that are actively anti-inflammatory in your diet if you have joint pain, but it’s equally important to avoid the foods that can make inflammation worse. These are the five foods to avoid if you want to say goodbye to knee pain, hip pain, and arthritic joint pain and get on with life.

#1 – The Effects of Red meat and Joint Pain

Red meats like lamb and beef are triple threats when it comes to joint pain-inducing inflammation. Firstly, digestion of meat, particularly if it has been cooked at high heat, ultimately results in the increased bodily presence of two molecules associated with inflammation – trimethlyamine oxide and advanced glycation end products. Meat is also high in saturated fat and studies show high-fat meals can cause an immediate increase in inflammation.

#2 – Processed and Fried Foods and Joint Pain

While not always the case, most processed and fried foods are high in partially hydrogenated oils, which are also known as trans fats. These are created when hydrogen is added to unsaturated fat to give it more stability – a process that can extend shelf life and boost flavour. Lots of research, including this 2011 study examining the effect of trans fats on cells, has shown that trans fats contribute to systemic inflammation, which underlies conditions like arthritis and joint pain.

#3 – The impact of White bread and other refined grains on Ageing and Joint Pain

While whole grains can have an anti-inflammatory effect, refined grains like those found in white flour, pastry, and white bread can increase inflammation – likely by encouraging the growth of inflammatory gut bacteria. Joint pain is only one of the consequences linked to the inflammation associated with refined grains – this 2010 study also suggests diets high in refined grains could be connected with early death.

#4 – Vegetable and seed oils

When it comes to oils and inflammation, there’s good oils and bad oils. Good oils, like olive oil, are high in omega-3 fatty acids while bad oils, like corn oil and other vegetable oils, are high in omega-6 fatty acids. Both omega-3 and omega-6 are necessary to be healthy, but modern diets tend to provide us with far more omega-6 than we need, and this can cause increased inflammation that leads to joint pain. Replacing oils high in omega-6 with olive oil could produce an anti-inflammatory effect and a reduction in pain.

#5 – High-sugar foods and the negative implications on Ageing

Sugar has found its way into all kinds of products – from breakfast cereals to canned sauces – but a diet high in sugar can be incredibly harmful. It increases the risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and – because the consumption of sugar triggers the release of inflammatory bodies called cytokines – it also has a negative effect on joint pain. In 2014, a study looking at the links between arthritis and soft drinks sweetened with sugar established a firm association between the two.

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.

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. 

The 16 8 Diet Explained

Why the 16 8 Diet works, how keto and fasting are linked, and how to do it.

intermittent fasting hours

What is the 16 8 diet and how can it help you live longer?

The 16 8 diet is a popular form of Intermittent Fasting (IF) that is sometimes also called Time Restricted Feeding (TRF).

This diet has quickly gained popularity in the last five years and scientific study is beginning to indicate that it is more than a fad. Human and animal trails of the 16 8 diet show early indications that it is an effective tool for weight loss, can help reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers, is a treatment option Type 2 diabetes, and can improve brain function. Each of these outcomes are defences against major diseases of aging and can help you to live longer and live better.  

While the 16 8 diet is a version of Intermittent Fasting, it has some major lifestyle benefits not available with other kinds of IF. The 16 8 diet does not require you to fast for long periods and does not impose severe calorie restrictions. Instead, it closely mimics your Circadian rhythm by prescribing that you eat for eight hours in every 24-hour cycle and observe a 16-hour fasting window.

Most people choose to have their eating window during daylight hours; from 10am-6pm or 12pm-8pm, allowing them to keep eating two regular meals each day and snacks in between. Relatively recent evidence points to an increase in effectiveness of the 16 8 diet when the eating window is located earlier in the day, for example from 8am-4pm.

Keto and Intermittent Fasting

Keto is shorthand for Ketosis – a process that is triggered by food deprivation. Researchers have discovered that Keto is a major reason that Intermittent Fasting interventions like the 16 8 diet have such wide-ranging health benefits.

Keto involves what experts call a metabolic switch, which occurs when the body isn’t provided with food.

When not in Ketosis, the body uses glucose from food for energy, but when ketosis occurs the body changes and begins converting stored fat into ketones, which become its energy source.

This results in weight loss as fat is burned off, but researchers – like those who conducted this 2017 study on “The impact of intermittent fasting on health and disease processes” –  say food deprivation also triggers “adaptive responses of the brain and autonomic nervous system” that “play major roles in the fitness-promoting and disease-allaying effects of IF”.

These adaptive changes lead to health improvements like decreases in inflammation, reduction in cholesterol levels, and lower blood sugar levels.

The 16 8 diet is one Intermittent Fasting keto schedule that can induce a metabolic switch and help you enhance your longevity.

How to follow the 16 8 diet

If you want to try keto and fasting, experimenting with the 16 8 diet is an excellent place to start.

To induce Intermittent Fasting Keto, researchers have determined most people need to fast for 8-12 hours, after which the level of ketones in the blood will begin to rise. The 16 8 diet creates a daily fasting window of 16 hours, meaning the body will be in a state of ketosis for 4-8 hours in each 24-hour period.

Before beginning the 16 8 diet it is important to talk to your doctor as your medication or individual nutrition and energy needs could make it inappropriate for you. If you are cleared to try Keto and Intermittent Fasting, then look at your normal schedule of meals and determine which eight-hour eating window will result in the least disruption to your routine. For example, if you normally eat between 8am and 8pm, you could consider swapping to eating between midday and 8pm, so you can still eat dinner with your family.

During the eating window, you can eat any food you like, but experts say the 16 8 Diet works best when paired with healthy food choices such as the Mediterranean Diet.

If you are having trouble making the change to eating only eight hours each day, try phasing the change in gradually. Start with a ten-hour daily eating window. After two weeks of transition, narrow the window down to eight hours. Many proponents of the 16/8 diet and Intermittent Fasting say their bodies eventually adapted to eating only during a four-hour daily window.