I get asked a lot about joint health and pain, and if our seaweed supplements can help. The short answer is yes, seaweed can be a part of the arsenal for preventing and improving joint health in life. However, the long answer is that there is no single magic pill for joint health, and it will involve the usual – better overall diets, moderate exercise and good sleep. That said, filling in your dietary gaps and exercise for your fascia - the interface of our joints to their function - might be the simple secret that works for you.
Introducing the joint health interface – your fascia
The fascia creates, connects and communicates in and around our joints. It is part of the invisible matrix that organizes all of our cells and tissue compartments, and also determines whether tissue should be flexible or tight. It is a molecular mesh of proteins, like collagen, and glycans, like hyaluronic acid and chondroitin sulfate. The fascia is important in all of our biomechanics and senses of when stretch or pressure is too much, or when it is good, where our muscles and joints are and what they are doing.
Take your knee for example. This is one spot where strength and stability is vital, yet it is one of the most flexible joints in our bodies. The biomechanics of power, stability and flexibility are astounding and none of our human engineering expertise could ever (in our lifetime) replicate the complexity of what makes these systems work. That is not stopping us, at PhycoHealth, from trying to repair important skin connective tissue with our Seafibre glycan extract, but prevention is always better than a cure. Paying some respect and attention to what our fascia needs, might help to prevent or to recover from joint health issues.
If you read my previous article on the dark matter of biology, your glycome, you will be aware that it isn’t just bones, muscle and blood that keep us thriving. It is the mysterious mucous, gels and connective tissue structures that make it all happen, everywhere in our bodies. This is no less important for your joints. Your connective tissue is a living thing that needs feeding and care.
The fascia is both smart and strong
Recent research has shown that the fascia is teaming with microfibre channels full of nerve receptors that monitor and send repair and function signals, as well as inflammation signals when needed. This is your bodysense, or proprioception, constantly monitoring the movements and condition of your fascia. More and more research is pointing to the fact that we have been underestimating the importance of looking after your fascia, and the joint health epidemic could be one consequence.
Joint health issues can be a metabolic disease
Life will inevitably serve up our own personal doses of pain from accidents and disease, but we are not helping matters on a modern industrialised diet. According to the World Health Organisation, over 1.7 billion people suffer from joint health issues, and the links between joint health and metabolic health are strong. A recent study at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, showed that it is less about being overweight and more related to your inflammation status and gut microbiome. So back to the future here on our recent blog about how SeaFibre can modulate inflammation through the gut.
This is important because joint health is not just mechanical. When we think of global dietary and metabolic disorders we jump to diabetes. Diabetes, however, is but one expression of the less desirable S.A.D. diet inflammation that we live with in the modern world. There are many people of those 1.7 billion, walking around without being overweight yet experiencing joint health issues.
Metabolic health, and therefore joint health in many cases, can be improved with diet, and a fibre-fed, healthy gut microbiome.
Exercise the fascia
After building it right through diet, we need to use it or loose it; that being moderate exercise. Joint health exercise might not be best done at the gym, running track or swimming pool though. Deep tissue exercise could be more important than you think. Roller training is regarded as targeted fascia training that can improve mobility, assist with pain relief, regenerate soft tissue, and enhance your other types of physical activity. I recently heard an elite athlete claim that his lifetime success of running with no injury was due to a routine of leg rolling before bed. Rollers, massage, deep tissue stimulation, gentle stretching and practicing control of tiny body movements, just like Tai Chi which I have recently taken up, can all contribute to better balance and maintenance of those millions of smart neurons and connective tissue.
I might not take on the training regime of an elite athlete's running schedule, but an elite regime of fascia rolling before bed sounds totally fine to me. Followed by a fibre-rich breakfast in the morning – real food, mostly plants and with a dose of seaweed. Remember, food is thy medicine first, and we can top it up to fill the nutrition gaps and health concerns that are specific to you.