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Updated: Apr 26

Most of us don’t think about our joints daily, but as soon as the aching, cracking, and soreness start, they jump right to the front of our minds.

Knee Joint

This blog will cover the best ways to nourish your joints, from the right foods and exercises to whole-food supplements!

Certain types of exercises can help to keep your joints flexible and happy. Click the button below to download a guide to joint health exercises.

joint exercises
Download PDF • 413KB

Most people don’t know that your gut's health significantly impacts your joints (and many other body systems). So keeping it healthy is vital to keep your joints in fighting shape. Check out our Gut Health Center to learn ways to keep your gut working at its best.

High levels of stress can increase joint pain and inflammation. It can also cause the muscles around the joints to tense up and cramp. So keeping stress levels under control is essential to keeping your joints healthy. Check out our article, Stress 101, for ways to keep your stress under control.

Drinking plenty of water is vital for healthy joints. Being dehydrated is a great way to make your joints crack and hurt. Mineral water, such as Gerolsteiner, is excellent because many people do not get enough calcium and magnesium in their diet.

flavored water recipes

Skip the terrible water-flavoring products and use whole foods to flavor your water.

What you eat can make the difference between healthy joints and painful joints. Nourishing whole foods support your joints, while the wrong foods inflame and irritate them.

Avoid these foods if you want to keep your joints happy:

  • Refined flours and sugars

  • Alcohol

  • Artificial, sugar alcohol, and zero calorie sweeteners because of their negative effect on gut health.

    • Choose local raw honey, maple syrup, coconut, or date sugar.

  • Oxalate-rich foods can deposit crystals into the synovial fluid inside the joint; this can cause arthritis called Oxalate Arthropathy.

    • Avoiding these foods can help to prevent this problem.

      • Spinach

      • Swiss chard

      • Soy products

      • Rhubard

      • Almonds

      • Beets

      • Potatoes

        • Sweet potatoes are much lower in oxalates and far more nourishing, so make the swap!

      • Legumes

    • Other foods have them but are in lower amounts, which is not a problem for most people. However, if you have oxalate-induced joint pain, you should go on a low-oxalate diet.

  • Avoiding fake butter, vegetable, and seed oils may be the most critical part of keeping your joints healthy. These inflammatory oils are rich in omega-6 (linoleic acid), which wreaks havoc on your joints and the rest of your body. Unfortunately, these horrible “foods” are found in virtually everything nowadays.

    • Check out this article to learn more and how to avoid them.

    • If you could only do one thing to improve your health, cutting these out of your diet should be it.

    • Primarily corn and soy-fed chicken and pork, as well as farm-raised fish, should be avoided as they are high in omega-6 as well.

Julia Child butter quote

These nourishing whole foods can help you keep your joints ready for whatever activities you have planned, from hiking the trails to dancing at your ex-wife's wedding. Make sure to eat some every day; you cannot just eat them once in a while and expect to get the benefits.

  • Berries

    • Berries contain compounds that help turn off the inflammation signals triggered by cytokines and cox-2 enzymes.

  • Pomegranates can help to lower the levels of certain inflammatory compounds that contribute to certain types of arthritis. Eat the fruit (fresh or frozen), not the juice.

  • Tart cherries can help to reduce swelling in the joints.

  • Vitamin C-rich fruits

    • The body uses vitamin C to produce collagen. So eat those oranges.

  • Protein is vital for healthy joints. The body needs a lot of amino acids to build healthy joints.

    • Shoot for one gram of protein per pound of ideal body weight. So if you should weigh 130 pounds, try to get 130 grams of high-quality protein daily.

    • Good quality protein sources are:

      • Pastured Eggs

      • Bone Broth

      • Organ meats

      • Grass-fed ruminant meat

      • Grass-fed organ meat

      • Sustainably wild-caught fish

      • Raw grass-fed milk, yogurt, and cheese

      • Low-pufa chicken

      • Low-pufa pork

      • Native whey protein

  • Healthy fats help to reduce inflammation and lubricate the joints

  • Ginger

    • Grate a ¼ inch of fresh ginger, steep it for ten minutes covered, and drink two to three times daily. Sweeten with a bit of honey if desired.

  • Turmeric with ghee

    • Cooking turmeric with some good fat increases the absorption of the beneficial compounds.

  • Lacto-fermented foods

    • Yogurt and kefir

      • Buy full-fat plain versions and add fruit or honey for sweetness, rather than buying pre-flavored versions.

Lacto-fermented vegetables like sauerkraut, pickles, beet kvass, and kimchi.

lacto-fermented vegetables

Nourishing whole-food supplements can help give your joints the extra boost they need. However, taking them daily at the correct dosage is essential to get relief. It can take several months to start to feel the full benefits. Taking too low a dose, taking them inconsistently, or taking them for too short a period will not get you the results you are looking for.

First up is unrefined cod liver oil. Over ninety-five percent of the population does not get enough omega three fatty acids in their diet. This can have a profound effect on joint health. The ratio of omega-six to omega-three should be around two or three to one, but unfortunately, most peoples are around thirty or fifty to one. This imbalance causes a tremendous amount of health issues. You can read more about this here. The solution to this is to dramatically decrease the amount of omega-six in the diet and increase the amount of omega-three.

Unrefined cod liver oil contains omega-three fatty acids, vitamins A, D, and other beneficial compounds. The fatty acids and vitamins are in their naturally occurring forms. Nearly all cod liver oils are heavily processed, which changes the structure of the fatty acids into one not found in fish or food, and the natural vitamins are stripped out. True, whole-food cod liver oil is deeply nourishing. Refined, heavily processed fish oils (such as those made with molecular distillation) are not a substitute, any more than heavily processed foods are a substitute for whole foods.

Solomon’s seal is not well known, but it is my favorite joint herb. This herb is your friend when your joints feel like they are dried out and cracking. Think of it as an internal moisturizer for your joints. It can be applied topically as well. It is especially wonderful in the dry fall and winter months.

Unrefined Emu oil is another great fat for joints. It is rich in omega fatty acids, as well as being the richest food source of the mk-4 form of vitamin k2. This form is far more potent and beneficial than the k1 found in plants and the mk-7 form found in most supplements. It contains many other fat-soluble nutrients and compounds not found in most people's diets. It is a highly nourishing joint food. As with whole-food cod liver oil, refined emu oil is not even close to the same as whole-food emu oil. Getting plenty of healthy fats makes your joints very happy!

While most people think of glucosamine for joint health, we believe there is a better, more nourishing way.

Glucosamine is typically made from farmed shrimp shells. These shells come from heavily polluting farms that often use slave labor. This is not something we want anything to do with. Most glucosamine supplements are an ethical nightmare.

We wanted a better option. One that was a whole food source of glycosaminoglycans (glucosamine is a constituent of some of these), chondroitin, proteoglycans (such as hyaluronic acid), and type two collagen, which was ethically produced.

One issue we found when looking into this was that most whole-food materials that contained these compounds had poor bioavailability and absorption. No matter how good the ingredient is, it will not do any good if you don’t absorb it.

The richest food source of these compounds was bovine tracheal cartilage. It has a long history of use for many health issues and was championed by Dr. John Prudden, who conducted a lot of research on it.

After finding an ideal food source of these compounds, we needed to find one that was ethically produced and properly manufactured.

When reviewing products containing this material, it was tough to find products that we could trace the source of the ingredients back to their origin. Most companies could only tell us the country of origin, not the farm it came from or how the people who raised the cattle and the animals were treated. We needed one where we could trace the material back to the farm, one that met the criteria for our Farm-To-Bottle Project.

Farm to bottle project

We needed to find a company that partnered directly with ranchers grazing cattle using regenerative agricultural methods, so we could verify the source was environmentally friendly, took good care of their workers, and had happy and healthy animals.

After a lot of searching, we finally found it; yay! The cattle are from a rancher-owned cooperative of small farmers called Obe Organic. They use regenerative agriculture for grazing their cattle across a large swath of land in the Lake Eyre region of the Australian Outback. The cows spend their time in the sun grazing on nearly one hundred grasses and plants. This land is not suited to growing crops, so cattle grazing is the perfect use for it. The land has never been sprayed with pesticides. The cows are monitored via helicopter as they range over great distances. Their grazing and fertilizing help to sequester massive amounts of carbon in the soil. If all cattle were raised this way, animal agriculture would be carbon neutral and help to sequester more carbon in the soil than they produced! Regenerative agriculture helps produces more nutritious food, improves soil health, helps it to hold more moisture, and improves the local water table.

Several steps are needed in order to produce a good product using this raw material. All these must be done just right because this material can be easily damaged and degraded. Most companies we found selling it did not produce the material and could not give us accurate details as to how it was processed and made. Others used high-heat processes and horrible solvents (like hexane) and were selling a worthless powder, but you could not tell this from the label. Check out our blog, A Tale Of Two Bottles, to learn more about why labels and good stories are often extremely misleading.

First, the material is milled into a powder using a unique cold milling process to protect fragile compounds from heat and friction. Then enzymes (like those found in certain fruits) break down the material into smaller, easier-to-digest and absorb compounds. Without careful milling and enzyme processes, the absorption and bioavailability of the beneficial compounds are poor. Then it is slowly freeze-dried over forty-eight hours to protect and preserve the beneficial properties.

Think of this properly made whole food cartilage supplement as a multivitamin for the joints. It helps to feed and nourish them, giving your joints the nutrients they need to be healthy and working at their best.

It’s never too late to start working on your joint health. The best time is now! You don’t have to be perfect; going slow and gradually implementing those changes is okay. The most important thing is to get started.

Meals and snacks for joint health


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