by Khyati Kapur
Most of us don’t give much thought to our joints unless they cause us trouble. If you’re one of the millions of osteoarthritis sufferers in the United States, you’ve probably given your joints quite a bit of thought. One third of adults over the age of forty-five and an estimated 350 million people worldwide suffer from some form of osteoarthritis so it’s safe to say that you may reach a stage where your joints start calling for attention. Here are some simple steps you can take now to ensure your joints stay strong and lively for many years to come.
Joints are the points in the body where two or more bones meet. They are mobile to allow for movement of the limbs they attach to. While joints consist of several parts, the main component is cartilage- a firmish tissue that is softer and more flexible than bone. As cartilage covers the surface of bones in the joint, it minimizes friction, and thereby discomfort, when we move around.
The specialized cells that form cartilage are called chondrocytes. These chondrocytes produce collagen and elastin fibers. Collagen is the main structural protein in the body's connective tissue and is the most abundant protein in mammals, making up 25% to 35% of the whole-body protein content. Collagen is made up of amino-acids such as glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, and arginine which help keep our body's connective tissue, skin, hair, nails, and gut bacteria healthy. It is the all-important collagen that prevents our joints from becoming stiff, inflexible and painful and makes it possible for us to bend, stretch and move about freely.
You may already be familiar with the telltale signs of osteoarthritis- steadily worsening joint pain, and stiffness in the morning or after periods of inactivity. Osteoarthritis is caused by the inflammation, breakdown, and eventual loss of cartilage in the joints. It is one of the most frequently reported types of joint pain and can start as early as in the twenties.
If you are a runner or frequent exerciser you may experience this earlier and more than people who do not exercise, but regardless of your exercise regime, most people will experience at least some of the classic osteoarthritis symptoms by the time they reach their seventies.
By the time you start experiencing symptoms, your osteoarthritis is likely quite advanced. Osteoarthritis progresses gradually and begins with a slow breakdown of the cartilage matrix in the joint. As it progresses, a more pervasive erosion of the cartilage occurs followed by the release of collagen fragments. At its most advanced stage there is a chronic inflammatory response. At any point in the progression you may experience discomfort, however it worsens considerably as the condition advances and will eventually lead to limited mobility.
Most of the treatments available until recently concentrate on reducing inflammation and pain, and slowing down the progression of the disease yet, there is currently no drug therapy available that specifically improves joint function. Over-the-counter and prescription NSAIDs, like Tylenol and Advil, are most commonly taken by people with joint pain but they do not repair the damage done. The specialized Chondrocyte cells don’t seem to be able to repair the collagen-rich matrix that forms the basis of the joints. This means that preserving your joints from the outset is of utmost importance - a classic case of prevention being more effective than the cure!
If you were looking for an excuse to stop exercising, sorry to be the bearer of bad news! Some people mistakenly believe that refraining from vigorous exercise such as running or impact sports will give their joints a longer lease on life but this is just not true. The idea that you can “wear out” your joints is a myth, so no need to worry if you are an avid runner or gym enthusiast! Exercisers who do experience persistent pain or discomfort can take anti-inflammatories as many do, but by far the best course of action is to look after your joints from the outset giving them the attention they need to avoid being in this situation in the first place. So what can you do today to keep your joints in good shape for years to come?
An obvious answer is to look to supplements which are commonly considered to aid in healing or preventing medical conditions. When it comes to joint health, the most common supplements are Glucosamine and Chondroitin. Anecdotal evidence based on reports by users suggests that these supplements can provide some relief for joint pain. However, in recent years, more potent joint-health products have begun to appear on our shelves. Most notable amongst these are collagen supplements.
As collagen is the major component of our connective tissues and joints, it seems logical to take in some more if our joints are straining. When we consume collagen, the long-chain proteins it contains are broken down during digestion into their original amino acid components. In this form, they can be readily absorbed by the body and used as the building blocks for further collagen synthesis. While we can ingest collagen from say, drinking bone broth or eating a well-marbled steak - in practice it can be hard to consume enough of these foods to achieve therapeutic benefits. This makes collagen supplements a convenient alternative that can ensure your body receives the correct dose.
The results of several experiments investigating the use of collagen in the management and prevention of joint disease have been promising so far. One 24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain found that athletes consuming collagen hydrolysate can reduce parameters (such as pain) that have a negative impact on athletic performance.
Another study - a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomised, clinical study showed that enzymatically hydrolyzed collagen is absorbed and distributed to joint tissues and has pain relieving band anti-inflammatory properties. The study showed a significant reduction in osteoarthritis symptoms from baseline measures and clearly demonstrated that collagen peptides are beneficial nutritional supplements that can be used in the management of osteoarthritis and maintenance of joint health.
What can you do?
While there is no cast-iron guarantee that collagen supplements will solve all your joint problems, the evidence - both anecdotal and scientific - is very favorable. Plus collagen supplements offer additional perks like healthier hair, nails and skin - and who doesn’t want that?
There are many Collagen supplements on the market, but you have to be careful as some of them are neither pure nor contain the full range of amino acids required for collagen synthesis. Dr. K Collagen Peptides Powder is 100% pure and made from only natural ingredients. It also contains the full range of 18 amino acids needed to keep your joints healthy and supple.
Between collagen supplements and regular exercise, hopefully your joints will remain healthy and pain-free for many years.
PLEASE NOTE that this article is not in lieu of medical advice from your doctor. All content found on this website including: articles, text, images, audio, videos, or other formats were created for informational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
by Khyati Kapur
by Rahul Kapur