How Your Diet Can Reduce Joint Pain

Can the way you eat affect your joint pain and inflammation? It sure can...learn how diet affects your joints and what you can do about it!How Eating Clean Can Reduce Joint Pain

We’ve all been there – waking up to stiff joints and achy knees by the time you reach the top of the staircase. Joint pain is no joke – but did you know that how you eat can affect your joints?

Most people don’t make the connection between food and joint pain, but the pain you feel is a result of inflammation, a process in your body that is largely affected by your diet!

Reduced joint pain is actually the most frequently reported side effect of my Nourish program from participants. Why does this happen? Mostly because Nourish provides an opportunity to boost your diet with delicious anti-inflammatory foods.

What is Inflammation and How Does It Cause Joint Pain?

Inflammation is a defense mechanism triggered by damage to your tissues. When there’s something harmful in your body (like unwelcome bacteria, a virus, or any type of injury), your immune system signals an inflammatory response. That response includes an influx of fluid, proteins, and white blood cells, all of which provide damage control and work to remove the harmful substance or to repair tissue.

When the inflammatory response lasts only a few days (like when you scrape your knee or have a cold), that’s called acute inflammation, and it’s essential for speedy healing. However, when your body is constantly in an inflammatory state (not from injury or unwelcome substances) it’s called chronic inflammation, and it’s a major contributor to joint pain and nearly every chronic disease (heart disease, diabetes, obesity, etc.).

When you think of joint pain, you probably think of arthritis, and for good reason. Arthritis takes many forms and can affect people differently, but the common thread is joint inflammation. With arthritis, your body calls for an inflammatory response to your joints, even without any injury. That draws fluid and inflammatory cells into the joint, causing swelling in and around the area, which can stimulate nerves and cause pain, irritation and breakdown of the cartilage protecting your bones.

How Does Your Diet Cause Inflammation?

Now that we know how chronic inflammation plays a role in joint pain and chronic disease, let’s look at what role your diet plays. Some foods trigger the release of inflammatory messengers called cytokines, and other pro-inflammatory chemicals in the body. When your diet consists mostly of pro-inflammatory foods, your body is constantly signaling for an inflammatory response, which contributes to joint pain and other problems.

You might be thinking, is my diet full of pro-inflammatory foods? It’s definitely worth it to take a closer look. Does your diet consist of a lot of refined sugar and carbohydrates and unhealthy fats? How often do you eat candy, drink soda, consume white bread, or treat yourself to fast food? If you’re eating this way most of the time, your diet is a likely contributor to those daily aches and pains (along with a host of other health problems).

What Does an Anti-Inflammatory Diet Look Like?

If eating certain foods causes inflammation, you can bet there are foods that will help prevent or reduce it. Anti-inflammatory foods work in the exact opposite way of pro-inflammatory foods, by preventing the release of cytokines and inflammatory chemicals. The same way a generally unhealthy diet promotes inflammation, a healthy, balanced diet is your anti-inflammatory secret weapon.

My 21-Day Nourish Program is a great model for healthy, anti-inflammatory eating, as it includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, gluten free whole grains, plant-based proteins, omega 3 fish, and healthy fats.

Omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats are especially effective for reducing inflammation. Getting in plenty of avocados, nuts and seeds, and fatty fish are all great ideas.

Antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies are also anti-inflammatory superstars. A simple trick is to eat a variety of colors in your food. The more colors on your plate, the more variety of protective antioxidants and polyphenols you’re consuming.

Whole grains are important because they provide fiber, which slows down digestion to keep you full and also cuts back on inflammatory signaling.

During Nourish we also remove many of the chemicals found in processed and packaged food. We try to eat organic food whenever possible and avoid highly processed packaged foods, chemical sweeteners, artificial food dyes and colorings, preservatives, etc. I can’t say for sure whether this plays a role in how amazing people feel on the program, but I have a sneaking suspicion it has an effect.

If you’re thinking about trying an anti-inflammatory diet to help reduce joint pain, join us! The spring session of Nourish starts May 1. Click here to learn more!

 

Curry Cabbage & Cauliflower Stir Fry + $700 Amazon Giveaway!

Super simple Indian inspired cabbage stir fry recipe with cauliflower rice and peas. Gluten free, low carb and delicious! I fell in love with curry back in Graduate school. It was the late 90’s and I was living in Harrisonburg, Virginia at the time, when JMU was home to a few cozy vegan eateries. I would wait in line for an hour on Sunday morning for The Little Grill’s buckwheat pancakes and homemade falafel and Friday night often included a run to the Indian-American Cafe for Gobi Aloo. I made that dish for years using my Good Housekeeping cookbook, and the smell of curry still reminds me of that time in my life.

Nowadays I like to put a healthy spin on old favorites. This Curry Cabbage & Cauliflower Stir Fry pays homage to my grad school days and my love of all things curry and turmeric.

This stir fry is super simple to make and includes three awesome veggies in one delicious dish. After a quick saute of the shredded cabbage, I added curry, turmeric and cumin — one of my favorite spice trios. Then I stirred in cauliflower rice and frozen peas, which took this stir fry to a whole new healthy level.

Why is this stir fry as good for you as it is delicious? Well, it contains not one, but two cruciferous veggies (the cabbage and the cauliflower) and these guys are well-known nutrition powerhouses. It also contains turmeric, which I add to everything these days (even a smoothie) and can’t stop writing about. Oh, and don’t forget about peas. These kid-friendly legumes are bursting with nutrition goodness, too.

This Curry Cabbage & Cauliflower Stir Fry is: 

  • full of antioxidants
  • anti-inflammatory and cancer preventive
  • super tasty
  • warm and comforting
  • vegan
  • gluten free
  • low carb
  • high in fiber
  • heart healthy

It also requires just 15 minutes and less than 10 ingredients to prepare. Another awesome win in my book.

Here are four ways you can repurpose this stir fry all week long:

  1. add a few scrambled eggs to it for breakfast
  2. create a Buddha bowl with it
  3. serve it inside a lettuce wrap
  4. Mix it with some ground beef or turkey for an Indian Goulash

Curry Cabbage & Cauliflower Stir Fry

Curry Cabbage & Cauliflower Stir Fry

Ingredients

  • 1/2 whole cabbage, shredded (you can use pre-shredded bag, too)
  • 1 cup riced cauliflower (you can use frozen, too)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp curry

Instructions

  1. Using a food processor, shred the cabbage and rice the cauliflower. If using frozen riced cauliflower, defrost 1 cup. Heat coconut oil in large saute pan. Add onion plus 1/4 tsp salt and cook until onion softens, about 3 minutes. Add shredded cabbage (you might have to do this in batches). Once all the cabbage is in the saute pan, stir in ginger, spices and remaining salt.Then add peas and cauliflower and mix gently to combine. Top with lemon before serving.
http://foodconfidence.com/2017/03/02/curry-cabbage-cauliflower-stir-fry/

This stir fry recipe is super simple to make and includes three awesome veggies in one delicious and versatile dish!

Wait, there’s more! Would you like a chance to win yourself $700 in Amazon cash?

That’s right, I’m celebrating this month with a St. Patrick’s Day Giveaway.

Win $700 Amazon Gift Card with this St Patrick's Day Giveaway!

I’ve teamed up with some great bloggers to bring you this amazing giveaway. The more of these awesome bloggers you follow, the more chances you have to win! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

guilt free, fat free potato corn chowder

Heart Healthy Idaho Potatoes (Twitter Chat Recap)

Last week I hosted a twitter chat with the Idaho Potato Commission all about heart health and potatoes! Even if you missed it, you can check out the chat on Twitter by looking up the chat hashtag: #HealthySpud.

February is Heart Health Month and I loved chatting with everyone about how potatoes are a great heart-healthy food!

Fun fact: Did you know that one potato has about as much potassium as two bananas? That fact surprised a lot of people, but it’s part of what makes potatoes so good for your heart. Potassium helps keep your muscles moving normally – and your heart is the strongest muscle in your body! Like plenty of the chat participants, I love eating potatoes, avocados, spinach, white beans, and bananas to get my daily potassium intake.

We also chatted about our favorite heart-healthy ways to eat potatoes. My friends over at Idaho Potatoes love them baked, mashed with garlic, and as baked fries (me, too!). Another favorite way I enjoy potatoes is in my Creamy Potato Corn Chowder, which uses a blended “corn cream” instead of heavy cream for richness and helps keep the dish a heart-healthy option.

guilt free, fat free potato corn chowder

Our participants had some great ideas, too – like rubbing whole potatoes with olive oil and a spice blend before baking for a super flavorful and crunchy skin. Topping baked potatoes with sliced avocado and making colorful smashed potatoes with purple potatoes are now on my list to try, too.

Thanks to the Idaho Potato Commission we were able to give away some awesome prizes during the Twitter chat. If you missed out on those I’d still love to hear your answers to our chat questions!

  • How do you take care of your heart?
  • What cooking tips and tricks do you use to make meals healthy?
  • When I say Idaho Potato, what’s the first word that comes to mind?
  • Which foods do you eat to get in your daily potassium?
  • And my favorite – what’s your favorite way to eat Idaho Potatoes?