Cartilage is an important connective tissue found throughout our bodies. When damaged in the joints, it can lead to pain, inflammation, limited range of motion and stiffness that can eventually progress to OsteoArthritis (OA)—the most common type of arthritis. When used as part of a larger, comprehensive treatment plan, nutrition can be a great way to confront some of the symptoms of OsteoArthritis and other disorders that result from degeneration of cartilage. Here is a list of foods that help rebuild cartilage.
Foods that Help Rebuild Cartilage
For optimal joint function, it is important to beat inflammation wherever possible—inflammation is the primary source of collagen and, by extension, cartilage breakdown. Legumes are a particularly effective food option for their anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, because collagen is a protein, the protein content of legumes is helpful in replenishing the collagen necessary to rebuild cartilage. And, as if all of that weren’t enough, legumes also have high levels of lysine, an amino acid that is critical to the cartilage regeneration. Beans, peas, and peanuts are all considered legumes, which means that you have numerous options to sneak more of them into your diet.
Collagen, which is a protein that your body needs vitamin C to make, is one of the primary components of cartilage. Oranges are an obvious choice in terms of getting vitamin C to promote the building of collagen as well as to promote cellular healing, which by extension is helpful in cartilage regeneration and protection. Vitamin C is also found in abundant quantities in other foods like kiwis, red peppers, kale, and strawberries. You will be happy to know that collagen is also important for maintaining youthful skin. So chowing down on vitamin C-rich foods will help you feel AND look younger.
As with many of the foods on this list, pomegranate fruit is well-known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Ongoing research from Case Western Reserve University also shows that pomegranates are helpful in the “expression and production of several mediators of cartilage catabolism in OA.” In a nutshell, pomegranates help your body produce substances that protect cartilage. The Pomegranate Walnut Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette recipe we posted back in November is an easy, delicious idea to include pomegranates in your next meal!
It seems like green tea ends up on just about every list of foods to eat to confront health issues. And with all of the health benefits scientists keep uncovering, it is little wonder. Suffice it to say, we would be willing to bet that no one ever died early from drinking too much green tea. In terms of cartilage regeneration and relieving OsteoArthritis symptom, there are numerous studies which imply that the compounds in green tea like catechins and polyphenols, which help with other conditions, may also be important to protecting and restoring cartilage. The myriad of other health benefits (and the fact that it also tastes pretty darn good) mean that you have nothing to lose by trying to integrate green tea into your daily routine as part of your plan to promote cartilage regeneration, and as part of a healthy lifestyle in general.
You may know that hyaluronic acid is commonly used in a variety of treatments and injections for conditions that involve the joints. Generally speaking, the substance acts to lubricate joints and as a shock absorber. To treat very minor cases of cartilage damage or, more likely, as a way to supplement other treatments to confront OsteoArthritis in a holistic manner, dietary sources of hyaluronic acid are a helpful addition to your diet. Brown rice is abundant with the substance, as are carrots, beef, and other foods. And pumpkin seeds are rich in protein (like legumes) and may aid the body in the production of hyaluronic acid.
To maximize the introduction of hyaluronic acid in your diet, your body needs magnesium to help your body absorb as much as possible from your food. Nuts like almonds, Brazil nuts, and sesame seeds are excellent sources of magnesium. However, it can be easy to overdo it on calorie-dense nuts, especially if you are trying to watch your weight to reduce the symptoms of OsteoArthritis or another condition that can benefit from cartilage regeneration. Be careful to watch your portion sizes and consider other good (though lesser) sources of magnesium like mackerel, pollock or tuna if you have trouble limiting yourself.
Vitamin K is essential for bone and joint health. Luckily, it is found in many foods, being especially abundant Brussels sprouts. With many ways to cook them and their exceptional vitamin K content, it is easy to get your recommended amount of the vitamin every day by cooking up some of these. AND if you toss them with a bit of olive oil, you will enjoy even more benefits from the anti-inflammatory properties and the vitamin K found in the oil.
As stated throughout the article, most people will not be able to fully treat their OsteoArthritis through food alone. But, to amplify the effectiveness of other treatments, maximize your quality of life and avoid dangerous interventions like complicated surgeries, being conscious of the foods you eat and making purposeful, healthy choices to promote cartilage regeneration is key.