Thinking about taking supplements for joint health?
I do not like to take supplements. The way I see it, if I am not going to take it everyday for the rest of my life, what is the point in spending my money on it? In this post I am going to share with you what made me change my mind about a couple of supplements, specifically, supplements for joint health: curcumin and collagen protein.
If you are like me, then being active might be your number 1 reason for getting out of bed every morning. It is why we eat healthy. It is why we train. It is why we get outside. It is why we stretch and warm up. But what do you do when something inevitably starts to hurt? Randomly. For me it was mostly my pinky. My left pinky.
What made me start to think about my joint health?
As a career, I am a high school English teacher, but I do a lot of stuff outside like run, climb, snowboard, surf, I love it all. So far in my life, I am almost 40, I have been basically injury free, even injuries from overuse. I have been lucky! But…
Recently, however, my left pinky finger started to ache randomly and became ever so slightly inflamed. Of course the little soreness and inflammation did not stop me from doing anything, I still climbed on it 95% discomfort free. Like any active lifestyle enthusiast, being inactive is just not something we think about as a cure to a little ache. But, it did get me thinking.
Another thing that got me thinking was a unique tired feeling in my whole hands after bouldering sessions at the gym. I normally lead climb at the gym, so adding bouldering in was new, and after bouldering, my whole hands just felt tired. Like I would slowly wiggle my fingers, make a loose fist, and just think, “wow, that feels worked.”
I asked one of my favorite Facebook groups, “TrainingBeta: Climbing Training Discussion Group” about joint support. There are a lot of really knowledgeable people in that group; I knew they would come through for me, which they did. Basically everyone who replied said to look into Curcumin and Collagen. So I did.
Taking Curcumin as a supplement for joint health
First, here are the articles I read to inform myself. Because, Damn it Jim, I teacher! Not a Doctor!
- 10 Proven Health Benefits of Tumeric and Curcumin
- Why Athletes Should Consume Antioxidants for Sports Performance and Muscle Recovery
- Curcumin: A Review of Its Effects on Human Health
- Theraputic Role of Curcumin: Lessons Learned from Clinical Trials
All of Curcumin’s health benefits basically stem from the fact that it an extremely powerful antioxidant and has extremely powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
What is special about anti-oxidants?
First, what is so special about anti-oxidants? Antioxidants help your body quickly get rid of free radicals before free radicals can damage your DNA. DNA tells your cells how to work, and when your DNA is damaged, your cells ‘age’ and don’t work properly. You are more likely to get cancer and a whole host of other things start to happen. Basically, you get old and are more at risk for everything.
Why don’t we just get our bodies to stop producing free radicals? You can’t. The production of free radicals are a natural part of cellular metabolism. All we can do is get rid of them quickly before they can do damage to our DNA and stuff. The more time free radicals are noodling around our cells, the more damage they can do to our DNA. Check this out if you want to know more about what a free radical is.
Most of the time when we think of powerful antioxidants we think blueberries, green tea, dark leafy greens, or turmeric. Curcumin is in turmeric, it is like the antioxidating part of turmeric on steroids. Studies have shown that Curcumin has such powerful antioxidating power that it help to treat diseases ranging from arthritis to Alzheimer’s Disease. While there are not a ton of studies on curcumin, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence indicating that it can help treat impressively long list of ailments and illnesses. Anything that is going to really support your health at a cellular level, is also going to help your joints.
What is special about anti-inflammatory stuff?
Kind of like how you can lower your bad cholesterol by eating foods that contain good cholesterol, you can fix damage caused by consuming inflammatory substances with consuming anti-inflammatory substances. So, any anti-inflamatory supplement for joint health is going to help any joint inflammation you have.
Inflammation is basically your body’s response to everything wrong with it. Our bodies become slightly inflamed from cuts, bruise, toxins from cigarette smoke, too many fat cells from the super cheese chorizo nachos you ate last night, or too much plaque causing cholesterol in your blood, also from those super cheese chorizo nachos. Curcumin has very strong anti-inflammatory properties. This doesn’t mean that it is going to just temporarily fix the problem like an NSAID would, Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory properties come from the fact that it is a such a powerful antioxidant.
Again, think of it like eating foods with good cholesterol, they help clean up the damage from eating too much bad cholesterol. Eating anti-inflammatory foods can help clean up the mess caused by inflammatory foods or injury.
Taking Collagen as a Supplement for Joint Health
- Significant Amounts of Functional Collagen Peptides Can Be Incorporated in the Diet While Maintaining Indispensable Amino Acid Balance
- Collagen: Fountain of Youth or Edible Hoax?
So, what is collagen? It is a protein. It makes up the connective tissue in our bodies such as tendons and ligaments. It also is the protein in our skin. Because collagen protein makes up connective tissue and skin in our bodies, it is not the same as protein that makes up our muscles or muscular organs.
Why is collagen a special protein? Collagen protein has an amino acid profile that makes it different from whey protein, or pea protein, or soy protein, or all the other kinds protein supplements are out there. The amino acid profile of collagen makes it especially beneficial and supportive for our connective tissue.
Research has demonstrated that taking collagen protein as a supplement for joint health can help to treat everything from osteoporosis, arthritis, sarcopenia (an age related disease that causes muscle loss), general joint pain, fine lines and wrinkles, and bad hair days. So, win, win, win.
How to eat all these supplements?!
One challenge I encountered while trying to incorporate these supplements for joint health into my diet was how to eat them. These are things that you want to take everyday, so being able to work them into a healthy staple is key. For me, that solution was in overnight oats and in yogurt parfaits. So, I will eat one of these everyday! I always eat it with my vitamins, so assure that I have vitamin C in my system when I eat the collagen protein.
Recipe #1: Overnight Oats
This is so stinking easy to make and it has 30 grams of protein, 27 grams of healthy carbs, some healthy fat, and lots healthy fiber to start your day. I eat this, and I swear I don’t get hungry for like 6 hours. You simply pour your ingredients in a bowl, pour water over, and let it sit for at least 4-5 hours in the fridge. I don’t measure the cinnamon, turmeric, or chia, but it is between a half a teaspoon and teaspoon of each.
Recipe #2 Yogurt Parfait
This is also incredibly easy to make and it has about 35 grams of protein, plenty of healthy fats, fiber, and carbs from the chia.
NOTE: Make sure to have some Vitamin C with your collagen protein! Vitamin C helps greatly with the absorption of collagen protein. ALSO, a note on the turmeric. This amount of turmeric has little to no curcumin in it… you have to take a supplement…