by Carole Jacobs and Chef Patrice Johnson with Nicole Cormier, R.D.
Bursitis, tendonitis, arthritis, and most of the other aches and pains that are characteristic of aging stem from a common problem: inflammation. Inflammation is actually just part of the body’s defense against infections, toxins, and irritation, but it can cause pain and discomfort.
The Antioxidant Connection
Nearly one out of three Americans — 66 million adults — has arthritis. According to the Arthritis Foundation, 43 million have been diagnosed with arthritis and another 23 million live with undiagnosed chronic joint symptoms.
New research shows that relief is as close as your grocery store and juicer. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, antioxidants called carotenoids help reduce the risk of developing arthritis and other inflammatory disorders.
The culprit behind oxidation is free radicals, which play a role in damaging joints. By combating free radicals, antioxidants also help eliminate the inflammation that accompanies it.
Arthritis and other problems caused by inflammation, including tendonitis and bursitis, are among leading causes of disability among Americans over the age of fifty, and costs related to inflammation cost the U.S. economy more than $86 billion a year. Unfortunately, half of those who have these conditions don’t believe anything can be done to help.
Two crucial antioxidants for combating inflammatory diseases are beta-cryptoxanthin and zeaxanthin. People who develop inflammatory diseases typically consume 40 percent less cryptoxanthin and 20 percent less zeaxanthin than those who don’t. In addition, consuming adequate vitamin A helps curtail arthritis and other diseases associated with inflammation.
Fruits and Veggies that Ease Inflammation
According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, increasing your intake of key fruits and vegetables can help prevent arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. Produce contains high levels of antioxidants and phytochemicals, both of which play a role in reducing inflammation.
Free radical damage contributes to inflammation. Vitamin C is a key antioxidant that has anti-inflammatory properties. You can find it in citrus fruit, berries, and dark leafy greens. To get the most antioxidant power from your juice, follow the rainbow principle. Because the color of a fruit signifies its antioxidant content, create juices from fruits that represents all colors of the rainbow.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, the following fifteen fruits and vegetables are powerhouses of antioxidants and phytochemicals, so mix and match them for juices that help relieve the aches and pains:
Oranges. Consuming one glass of freshly squeezed orange juice per day can help reduce inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Berries. Berries are loaded with antioxidants and vitamin C. Blueberries have more antioxidant concentrations than other berries, but cranberries, blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries are all rich sources of antioxidants.
Kiwi. One kiwifruit has nearly twice the vitamin C of an orange and can help reduce inflammation.
Apples. According to research conducted at Cornell University, apples contain antioxidants that fight inflammation, allergies, cancer, and viruses.
Cherries. Research shows that drinking four ounces of cherry juice a day helps relieve inflammation even when you stop drinking the juice, so be sure to include it in your favorites.
Parsley. Rich in beta-carotene, parsley also helps relieve inflammation.
Prunes. Prunes are rich in antioxidants, and research at the Center on Aging at Tufts University found they contain more than twice the antioxidant power of other produce.
Carrots. They are high in antioxidants, vitamin A, and carotenoids.
Broccoli. Rich in beta-carotene, broccoli is also high in vitamin C, which helps reduce inflammation.
Pineapple. Loaded with the enzyme bromelain, a powerful and natural anti-inflammatory agent, pineapple is a potent de-inflammatory.
Beans. Protein-rich beans reduce inflammation by replacing the body protein broken down by inflammation.
Red grapes. Packed with antioxidants, red grapes help lower inflammation and also help prevent heart disease and cancer.
Tomatoes. Loaded with the antioxidant lycopene, which helps prevent degenerative diseases and reduces the risk of prostate and other cancers, tomatoes also help fight inflammation.
Sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are rich in antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E. Just ½ cup provides twice the RDA for vitamin E.
Papayas. This tropical fruit is high in the enzyme papain, which has potent anti-inflammatory properties.
Juicing for Muscle Cramps
Muscle cramps are common, affecting about half the general population. These painful spasmodic contractions of muscles can affect any muscle group of the body but most often attack the muscles of the calves, legs, and feet, which bear the most strain. Muscle cramps are caused by a variety of factors, including dietary deficiencies, oxygen deficiency in the tissue, hormonal imbalances, menopause, and aging.
Low levels of minerals known as electrolytes — which include potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium — can contribute to muscle cramps. You can find potassium in bananas, oranges, cantaloupe, lettuce, and leafy greens; magnesium in nuts and beans; and calcium in broccoli.
Vitamins that Alleviate Cramps
To eliminate cramps, eat fruits and vegetables high in the previously mentioned minerals as well as vitamins D and B6, found in leafy greens, broccoli, apples, and bananas. In addition, eat produce high in vitamin C, which helps assimilate calcium in the body and prevents it from accumulating in the joints, where it can cause cramping. Good sources of vitamin C include broccoli, cabbage, citrus, spinach, and asparagus.
Vitamin E helps prevent nocturnal leg cramps by improving blood flow through the arteries. Find it in tomatoes, watercress, carrots, asparagus, and spinach.
Muscle cramps are also often caused by dehydration, so if you’re getting frequent cramps, drink more juice to hydrate yourself and fortify it with the key nutrients that combat cramping.
Juicing for Backaches
Backache, as the name suggests, is simply pain in the back, and it is among the most common ailments. Backache can affect a person at any age, but it is commonly seen in people older than fifty. Backaches can be caused by slipped disks, osteoarthritis, and osteoporosis. More rarely, they are caused by deformation of natural spine curvature (scoliosis), tumors, and infections in the spine. Backaches are very common in women, who most often suffer them during their menstrual periods.
Nutrients that Ease Backaches
Minerals needed to diminish and prevent backache include calcium and magnesium. Magnesium is found in all fresh green vegetables, apples, figs, wheat germ, and all seeds and nuts, especially almonds.
Simple home remedies for getting rid of backache include making a juice that contains glucose or honey in warm water and drinking it early in the morning on an empty stomach, and drinking the juice of one lemon mixed with common salt twice a day for about a week.
A wide variety of herbs can also help alleviate backache. They include the following:
Ginger limits the creation of prostaglandins and leukotrienes that cause aches and swelling
Saw palmetto is an anti-inflammatory
Chamomile relaxes muscles
Feverfew and burdock provide pain relief
Yarrow strengthens muscles
Stinging nettle reduces pain
Cayenne pepper offers topical pain relief
Willow bark alleviates pain
Rosemary is an anti-inflammatory
Devil’s claw is helpful for pain relief and arthritis
Angelica is useful for pain relief and is also an anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic
Mustard seed extract is good for easing pain
Valeria, cat’s claw, and licorice offer anti-inflammatory results
Horsetail speeds healing and reduces pain
Rapeseed extract reduces inflammation and increases circulation
Mint offers pain relief
Coriander reduces pain
Bilberry increases circulation
Celery seed is a muscle relaxant
Kava root is a pain reliever and anesthetic
Wheatgrass contains nutrients that strengthen muscle and keep the spine flexible
Comfrey contains many nutrients that help prevent backache