Joint health becomes more and more important as we get older. Joints, the connectors between bones, do everything from helping you eat, to bending over, and are crucial to helping us go about our day with ease. Joints and the cartilage between them start to wear down over years of movement, which may cause painful aching and creaking. While there is no simple cure for joint pain, there are plenty of ways you can make it more manageable and even help avoid it from starting too early. Everything from the right exercises to nutrients in food and supplements can help you maintain joint health for reduced pain and a greater range of movement. Read on for more tips to help care for your joints.

1. Joint Pain as We Age

Our joints start off cushioned with cartilage, which prevents them from rubbing together as we move. But as we age, this cartilage starts to naturally deteriorate to the point where bones start coming into contact with each other (which is exactly as unpleasant as it sounds), and this can cause mild inflammation to the surrounding tissues in some people. We call this joint pain, and it’s most common in the hips, knees, hands, feet and spine. It happens naturally to many people as they age, but other factors can definitely exacerbate it. Most people simply accept this chronic pain as a reality of life, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

2. Proactive Joint Protection

Joint pain is often thought to be a natural side effect of aging, but several factors within our control can make it worse. Weight is a common stressor for the joints. Being overweight can put added pressure on your joints and bones, especially since it means you’re more likely to be inactive (more on this later). Weight loss is a great way to proactively manage joint pain; losing just a few kilos can make a difference for your joints and doesn’t require a major lifestyle change. Other ways you can avoid joint pain from starting early is to use safety gear when working with your body, for example kneepads when gardening and work gloves when using machinery, as well as practicing good posture, and resting when you start to feel sore. Active joints are key to joint health, but if you’re starting to feel pain, resting your body is much more important. Alternating hot and cold packs is a great way to prevent swelling, but warm baths and massages are also effective  at easing oncoming mild joint pain.

3. Exercise

A sedentary lifestyle makes joint pain worse, which can be a surprise to many. You might think that moving the joints more than necessary will just worsen the problem, but low-impact exercises will help strengthen the muscles around your joints to support them and keep them mobile. Swimming is a fantastic exercise for people as they get older because the water takes all the pressure off your joints. Walking, cycling, and yoga are also low-impact ways to get a solid workout that’s easy on your joints. In addition to regular exercise, flexibility is important. Range of motion exercises keep your joints from getting stiff, and wonderfully complement your workout routine.

4. Supplements

Some supplements may help ease your mild joint pain and reduce mild inflammation. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has been shown to assist with mild joint pain and mild arthritis by blocking inflammatory cytokines and enzymes. Supplements of the concentrated curcumin  help you get an adequate amount without having to consume a ton of turmeric. Glucosamine is a great complement to curcumin, as it may help promote cartilage repair and formation, which may both reduce current pain and help with future joint health. A supplement like the Nature’s Way Activated Curcumin Joint Ease 50s that combines both is a great way to proactively relieve mild joint pain. For other great supplements, explore the Nature’s Way Joint Range and find the exact supplement for your specific joint health needs.

5. Food and nutrients

It might surprise you that what you eat can actually help promote joint health. Certain food, sea fish, for example, are packed with omega-3 fatty acids of anti-inflammatory properties. Adding in salmon, tuna, mackerel, and herring twice a week could support your joint health. If you’re not a fan of fish, try soybeans in the form of tofu or edamame and fruits rich in antioxidants, such ascorbic acid (a form of vitamin C) and anthocyanins and carotenoids.. Cherry season is a great time to load up on these fruits; the anthocyanins in them are well known for their anti-inflammatory benefits, but other berries like strawberries and blackberries are also great choices. And of course, Vitamin D and calcium-rich dairy foods like milk, yogurt and cheese will help keep your bones strong and healthy. Leafy greens, broccoli, citrus fruits, green tea, whole grains, and should also be added to your diet for optimal joint health.