What drinks are good for muscles and joints?
From spices such as turmeric to vegetables like spinach, there are a number of everyday foods that help to maintain healthy muscles and joints. This is something I discuss a lot here on the muscles and joints hub; however, did you know that there are actually a number of drinks that could be beneficial too? The list includes:
- Balance Mineral Drink
- Plain water
- Green tea
- Tomato juice
- Cherry juice.
Read on to find out exactly how these drinks can help!
1. Balance Mineral Drink
Balance Mineral Drink is a great all-round product that is most often used to address low energy levels and feelings of fatigue. However, due to the fact it contains magnesium, vitamin D, potassium and calcium, it can also be good for the health of the muscles and joints.
How does Balance help the muscles and joints?
- It contains 5µg of Vitamin D – amongst other things, vitamin D aids calcium absorption and bone mineralisation. This means vitamin D deficiency can result in muscle and joint pain (especially in the back) and decreased bone mineral density.
- It contains 300mg of potassium – some key actions of potassium include transmitting nerve signals along nerve fibres and muscle contraction. Muscle weakness is one of the key symptoms of potassium deficiency, along with muscle paralysis in very severe cases.
- It contains 112.5 mg of magnesium – this plays an important role in muscle contraction and can even act as a relaxant on the nervous system. Too little magnesium can result in muscle cramps, spasms, weakness and more.
- It contains 240mg of calcium – the bones are kept strong and healthy by calcium, meaning a deficiency in this mineral may lead to increasingly fragile bones.
From energy levels to the appearance of our skin, there are a multitude of areas that will benefit from you drinking the recommended 8-10 glasses of plain, still water a day. When it comes to the joints, though, staying hydrated can help further by fending off stiffness, pain and inflammation. After all, cartilage, which acts as a cushion for the bones at the end of a joint, is mostly made up of water. On top of this, water is an important part of synovial fluid which lubricates cartilage and keeps it moving freely.
Joint pain normally comes about when cartilage becomes weakened in some way, perhaps as a result of arthritis or general wear and tear. Whilst drinking water is by no means a quick fix for these problems, it could prove helpful. You can read more about how exactly water reduces joint pain here.
In the menopause it is especially important to drink lots of water as it wards off stiffness and discomfort in the muscles and joints. This common complaint comes about at this time because of a fall in oestrogen levels. The hormone oestrogen is responsible for controlling fluid levels throughout the body.
How can I increase my water intake?
- Eat more fruit – there are plenty of fruits that have a high water content, including watermelon, grapes, blueberries and oranges. Mix some of these into a delicious fruit salad or fresh fruit ice lolly to help get your water intake up.
- Flavour your water – make water more exciting by adding fresh fruits like cucumber lemon, pineapple and strawberries. Adding herbs like mint or rosemary also makes more a more interesting flavour.
- Keep water handy – you'll be more likely to drink water if you have a constant supply of it nearby. I'd recommend investing in a small bottle that can easily be slipped into a handbag or rucksack.
3. Green tea
Green tea contains polyphenols which have an anti-inflammatory effect.1 Inflammation is a process usually initiated by the body in response to trauma or infection and can result in stiffness, pain and redness around the muscles and joints.
In addition, green tea contains antioxidants which, initial research has suggested could protect cartilage and bone. In the long run this could have a small part to play in reducing the likelihood of arthritis.2
Due to a natural chemical called theanine found in green tea, it can also have a relaxing effect on the body.3 This is not only good for our mood; it could also help to relieve any tension in the muscles that has arisen as a result of stress.
Is green tea high in caffeine?
Green tea does have a higher content of caffeine when compared to other herbal teas. That being said, the levels of caffeine are still much lower than you would find in coffee or a breakfast tea. Therefore, unless you are regularly drinking green tea at a very high quantity, you are unlikely to experience symptoms like cravings as you would with coffee.
Freshly made smoothies (rather than the pre-packaged type) are nutrient-packed, making them great for the health of our muscles and joints. Take your pick from a range of ingredients including:
- Avocado – this trendy ingredient contains omega 3 which is anti-inflammatory. Not only is this good for anyone experiencing a condition like arthritis, it can also ease discomfort after exercise.
- Blueberries – these are full of antioxidants which may help to reduce inflammation.
- Spinach – this is high in both vitamin K and potassium which are needed to maintain bone health. These nutrients can improve bone density, for example, and reduce the likelihood of fractures. Spinach is also abundant in anti-inflammatory flavonoids.
- Ginger – this is another ingredient that can have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. Research shows that eating ginger could reduce muscle pain after sport,4 whilst another study concluded that ginger could help to ease knee pain that is the result of osteoarthritis.5
- Bananas – these are rich in magnesium. A magnesium deficiency can result in muscle cramps and tension so it is important to keep your intake topped up.
5. Tomato juice
Tomato juice contains lots of vitamin C which is another notable nutrient when it comes to muscle and joint health. Vitamin C has antioxidant properties which means the drink may help to ease inflammation.
Vitamin C provides additional support for the joints, though, as it is an important component of the body's connective tissue. This means it could also help to speed up recovery after injury to the muscles and joints.
What about vitamin C supplements?
If you want to top up your vitamin C intake then supplements are a suitable option. I would recommend, however, that you opt for a natural one such as our Nature-C Tablets, as these are much easier for the body to absorb. This is made from extracts of many different fruits including gooseberry and blackberry.
6. Cherry juice
With antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, cherry juice is another option for those looking to support their muscles and joints.6 Research shows regular cherry intake could reduce the risk of gout attacks,7 whilst other evidence suggests the drink could be beneficial in relieving the pain of osteoarthritis sufferers.8
If you are active and, in particular, enjoy running, additional studies suggest that cherry juice may reduce DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) which is often felt post-run.9
Is cherry juice high in sugar?
Sugar is pro-inflammatory, plus it can cause a rapid rise and fall in blood sugar levels which will likely worsen inflammation further. Therefore, should you experience a muscle-and-joints-related issues; you'd be wise to avoid food products with high sugar content.
Fruit juice does tend to contain lot of sugar but nowadays there are also plenty of natural juices available which provide an alternative. If you check the labels thoroughly and compare different products, you should be able to find one without the additives, preservatives and high sugar content. Check out your nearest health food store to see what they have on offer!
When it comes to the muscles and joints, there are many problems with caffeinated drinks such as black tea and coffee. Firstly, they affect the acid/alkaline balance of the stomach and from there the whole bloodstream, making it harder to keep calcium levels balanced. Calcium is then pulled from bones to balance the increased acidity in the bloodstream and this can form calcified deposits around the joints. This isn't great for on-going bone health.
Another problem is that caffeine affects the absorption of nutrients like magnesium from both food and supplements. This can add to the problem with calcium because humans can't absorb calcium without sufficient magnesium being present. This makes you more prone to muscle tension and all sorts of other ailments!
Fizzy drinks have similar effects, with the additional problem that carbonated drinks eat away at bone density. So keeping caffeine and fizzy drinks to a minimum is a great idea for long-term health.