I am a particular lover of the autumn months and take great delight in watching the colours change from an array of greens and browns to orange, reds and yellows. I am however less delighted by the colder temperatures that accompany this beautiful canvas; as sufferers well know, joint pains can occur anytime throughout the year, but it is the cold and wet months that make symptoms much harder to cope with. Whether this coming winter proves to be the coldest on record or yet another grey, damp miserable one whose temperature doesn’t plummet to the depths, sufferers will likely feel the effects ‘in their bones’.
Why winter’s worse on joints
Although a change in the weather will not directly cause joint pains, the cold and damp can worsen symptoms partly because the body restricts how much blood it sends around to the extremities, like hands and feet, instead focusing on supplying vital organs like the heart and lungs. Whilst this is a protective and therefore necessary mechanism required to reduce heat loss from blood circulating near the surface of the skin, this means that our joints also get less blood. When blood flow to the joints is decreased, this culminates in a reduced exchange of the essential nutrients required to nourish the joints and potentially toxic waste products are allowed to build up, increasing inflammation that can further damage the delicate joint tissues. In addition, the soft protective tissue that surround the joints becomes less pliable when we are cold, becoming tight and stiff. All in all, the symptoms relate to reduced movement, as well as increased joint pain and stiffness. Keeping warm is imperative, and wearing lots of loose layers can help trap warm air around the body. But don’t be tempted to reach for that cosy blanket or duvet and simply stay in! Remaining active is vital as regular exercise will not only improve blood flow but will help keep the joints supple and can help to reduce joint pains. Remember, too, hats, scarves and gloves are an absolute must when venturing out!
Keeping active is important to support good circulation but there are a number of foods and nutrients that are also beneficial and renowned for their circulation-boosting properties.Citrus fruits and red peppers are particularly high in vitamin C, which not only acts as a natural blood thinner but is also used in the formation of collagen, needed to strengthen the walls of our blood vessels and to prevent fatty plaque build-up (which itself can lead to poor circulation). Collagen is also a major component of bones and the tendons and ligaments that make up and support our joints and joint tissues. Using bone broth as a base for our favourite winter stews and soups will help provide the ‘raw materials’ required to maintain healthy bones and joints. Not only does bone broth provide collagen (as gelatine) but it’s also rich in glycosaminoglycans such as glucosamine, a key carbohydrate found in bones and connective tissues and, unsurprisingly, a key ingredient found in many joint and bone supplements such as Omegaflex and Omegaflex DUO renowned for both anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing properties!
Reducing joint pain and stiffness
During the autumn and winter months when our sun exposure is compromised, our levels of vitamin D are most likely at their lowest, which may exacerbate bone and joint pains. For example low vitamin D status is associated with disease activity, inflammatory status and bone loss/erosions in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. The relationship between low vitamin D levels and pain and joint function is likely due to the vitamin’s important role in the metabolic processes involved in bone and joint tissue turnover and routine supplementation can help ensure our levels of vitamin D3 remain topped up. Interestingly, in addition to the benefits of maintaining optimal vitamin D3 levels, people who have the highest levels of the omega-3 fatty acid EPA in both blood and joint fluid (synovial fluid) tend to have the lowest levels of joint pain. Including a couple of portions of oily fish such as sardines or mackerel can help keep omega-3 levels up and co-supplementing directly with omega-3 EPA can reduce both pain and inflammation in a similar way to standard anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and aspirin, working most efficiently when combined with glucosamine!
Our joint and bone supplements Omegaflex and Omegaflex DUO are expertly formulated and contain a patented blend of effective nutrients that replenish and protect the joints by reducing oxidative stress, supporting connective tissue and maintain healthy collagen formation and normal cartilage function. While these products are ideal for use all year round, they are particularly effective during the winter months to provide relief from pain and discomfort when symptoms are at their worst.
Remember, you can help yourself to alleviate joint pains during cold weather by following the simple tips mentioned above.
- Hong Q, Xu J, Xu S, Lian L, Zhang M, Ding C: Associations between serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and disease activity, inflammatory cytokines and bone loss in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatology 2014, 53:1994-2001.
- Moghaddami M, James M, Proudman S, Cleland LG: Synovial fluid and plasma n3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in patients with inflammatory arthritis. Prostaglandins, leukotrienes, and essential fatty acids 2015, 97:7-12.
- Gruenwald J, Petzold E, Busch R, Petzold HP, Graubaum HJ: Effect of glucosamine sulfate with or without omega-3 fatty acids in patients with osteoarthritis. Advances in therapy 2009, 26:858-871.