It might not hurt to take a look into the actual reasons why your joints ache, instead of just trying to get relief with over the counter pain medicines. Joint pain can come from many different things, and it can be somewhat challenging to figure out just what the culprit might be. If you’re stiff, achy and in pain daily, don’t just keep popping pills. Take a look into these reasons why your joints ache and hopefully, you’ll be able to figure things out and feel better soon.
1. Your Diet
I am a firm believer that, above all else, our diets determine how we feel, so consider your diet as one of the reasons why your joints ache so much. How do your meals look each day? Are they filled with plant foods, low in meat and dairy, and have enough healthy fats? If so, your diet’s in good shape! However, if you’re eating sugar, processed food, large amounts of dairy, artificial sweeteners, animal protein at every meal, or sources of gluten, then you’re probably suffering inflammation. These foods are highly inflammatory, and no matter what you do, if your diet is inflammatory, your body will be too. Add exercise to the mix, and you’ve got even more inflammation. Exercise is actually fantastic for your joints, but your body needs to be refueled with anti-inflammatory foods, not acidic ones. Add more plants to your plate, and your joints will suffer less ache.
If you’re rarely active, that might be another reason why you find yourself achy and stiff. Our bodies were meant to move, not be lazy. In fact, our lymph systems pump fluids throughout our body that prevent everything from inflammation to disease. They don’t have a pump like our hearts do to push fluids along, and they need a boost from us instead. What pumps your lymph? Movement! Any form of movement, especially aerobic such as jumping on a trampoline and yoga, are some of the best types to do to move lymph through the body. Do it several times daily and you’ll see benefits quickly.
3. Thyroid Issues
Another common reason for stiff and achy joints is low thyroid function. Hypothyroidism affects many women on a daily basis, and some don’t even know it. If you can’t afford to get tested for your thyroid, I’d suggest reading the book, “The Thyroid Diet”, by Mary Shannon, which helped me cure a low thyroid all on my own. I can tell you as someone who used to be tired, suffer brain fog, constant joint pain, and poor digestion from low thyroid, that the book changed my life. I learned foods like soy and other legumes, cruciferous veggies like broccoli and kale were aggravating my thyroid, and I was filling up on them daily! I also cut out gluten, and started eating more thyroid-boosting ingredients like coconut oil, fish, romaine lettuce, flaxseed, asparagus, and almonds. I also made sure to follow the lifestyle tips in the book, and in just a week I felt 100% better. Achy joints are a top symptom of low thyroid, so be sure you consider this reason when trying to cure your stiff and achy joints. If you’d like to check out the book I suggested, you can find it here: amazon.com.
4. Insufficient Recovery
If you’re an avid exerciser, good for you! However, just note that in conjunction with your healthy exercise regimen, you should also make a sufficient recovery program for yourself too. Your muscles suffer inflammation directly after exercise, and they need to be re-energized so they can actively recover. The best way to do that is by refueling after your workouts with an easy to digest source of protein, preferably from an anti-inflammatory source. Most people refuel with a protein shake or smoothie, which is great, so long as the ingredients are clean. Also be sure to eat easy to digest, low glycemic carbs after your workouts, which will also help speed up your recovery. Good ideas are gluten-free oatmeal with non-fat Greek yogurt, or a protein shake with a clean protein powder, perhaps some leafy greens and berries, or some fish with leafy greens if you’re hungry for a meal. Don’t skip a meal after your workout, and if you can’t eat an easy to digest meal, have a snack instead. My favorite is almonds and an orange, which contains protein, Vitamin C to combat inflammation, water, fiber, Vitamin E, B vitamins, and healthy fats to combat inflammation.
If you’ve considered all the above options and are still suffering, it could be high levels of stress. Stress will cause chronic inflammation, no matter how healthy your diet may be, or how properly you refuel after exercise. Your body is smart, and usually, signals like joint pain, poor digestion, and headaches, can be common manifestations of stress that are sent to us as warning signs that we need an intervention. Take heed of these signs, and make adjustments accordingly. Do whatever you can to destress your life, so you can feel better and relieve achy joints the natural way. Your body will thank you, trust me!
6. Lack of Rest
Do you get 7-8 hours of sleep each night? If not, do you take naps, or rest during the day at all? If not, then there’s your answer to the reason behind your achy joints. Your body needs to move, but it also needs to rest. Even if you get enough sleep, but are under high levels of stress, you need to rest a bit more to take care of your body. It will thank you in ways you wouldn’t believe, trust me. Even just taking 30 minutes to lie down each afternoon can help destress you. Turn off your “monkey mind” as I call it, and just lie there. It can do wonders for your health and your body. If you’re tired, indulge in a nap! A 30 minute to 1 hour nap never hurt anyone and most of the time, they only help.
7. Food Sensitivities or Allergies
Even if you eat healthy, you could still be reacting to some of the foods you’re eating. Common allergens linked to joint pain include eggs, dairy, soy, gluten, and shellfish. If you don’t eat any of these, you’ll also want to consider grains, and nightshade veggies like potatoes, red peppers, tomatoes and eggplant. Grains and nightshade veggies are healthy foods, but they contain certain natural properties that lead to inflammation and joint pain quickly. If you’re sensitive to these foods, remove them from your diet, and replace them with pseudo grains like quinoa or amaranth, wild rice, ( which is a gluten-free grass, not a grain like rice), and also use non-nightshade veggies in place of nightshade veggies. If you’re sensitive to soy, dairy, eggs, gluten and shellfish, try eating more nuts and seeds, unsweetened dairy alternatives, and protein sources outside of eggs or shellfish like lean poultry or fish. Also, always include green vegetables and leafy greens in your diet like romaine, spinach, celery, asparagus, cucumber, parsley and cilantro. Most people tolerate them all very well and they are top sources of relief for fluid build up in your joints, along with inflammation.
Achy joints are no fun. I get them if I eat the wrong foods, don’t rest enough, or I’m stressed. Do you have this issue? If so, I’d love to hear from you! What’s your best tip for relieving stiff joints and aches?