Connective tissues are fibres that are made up of proteins and sugars and are found in our joints, bones, tendons, ligaments, cartilage and fascia, as well as helping to keep our skin looking supple. These tissues surround the organs to help maintain muscle form, and are predominantly made up of proteins called collagen and elastin. Both collagen and elastin are easily damaged by inflammation. An anti-inflammatory diet is really important for maintaining healthy connective tissue, as well as young looking skin!
- Eating foods with collagen is one way to support the health of your connective tissue. The best source of collagen is bone broth, which can be used as stock for soups and stews. As well as containing collagen, the gelatine in the broth contains amino acids, which are anti-inflammatory. Other good sources of amino acids are meat, fish and eggs. Glucosamine, glycosaminoglycans, and glycine, nutrients that are vital to the health and repair of connective tissue and muscle growth, are also abundant in bone broth. Sulfate and chondroitin are important components of healthy cartilage, and can be found in animal cartilage, cruciferous vegetables, artichokes, onion and garlic.
- Certain vitamins and minerals are also important to support connective tissue health. Vitamin C rich foods aid in the production of collagen, as well as slowing down the deterioration of cartilage. Vitamin C also helps in the production of elastin, which promotes healing. Good sources of Vitamin C include peppers, citrus fruits, kiwi, pineapple, kale, strawberries and brussel sprouts. Fruits and vegetables rich in Vitamin C contain bioflavonoids, useful compounds that can decrease inflammation, strengthen capillaries and repair connective tissue damage by assisting in the production of collagen.
- Zinc is required for the production and repair of connective tissue and is found in fish, meat, wholegrains, seeds and nuts. It is an important antioxidant and helps to neutralise free radicals, which are produced as a result of pollutants and can be destructive to healthy cells.
- Vitamin E, found in asparagus, eggs, avocados, almonds and kale, is another powerful antioxidant, which helps to repair and strengthen connective tissue.
- Scientific studies cite vitamins A, B vitamins, C, D, E and K as crucial for connective tissue health. The minerals calcium, iron, zinc, selenium, copper, manganese, sodium and potassium were also cited by the same study as being crucial to support healthy connective tissue.
Eating a varied diet full of organic vegetables and fruit, organic grass-fed meat, organic fish and nuts and seeds, and low in refined foods, sugar, alcohol and caffeine should help to decrease inflammation and ensure healthy, robust connective tissue. Along with nutrition, other important factors to consider are sleep, stress levels and exposure to environmental toxins. Connective tissue needs plenty of water for hydration.
Diet Tips for Healthy Fascia
Nutrition is a key factor in maintaining healthy connective tissue, and minerals and vitamins can help repair damage and reduce inflammation. In order to promote connective tissue health, it is important to have a low toxin environment, exercise, drink plenty of water, decrease your stress levels and increase sleep.
Nutrition for healthy fascia needs to focus on anti-inflammatory foods. Inflammation is the body’s initial healing response to trauma from an infection or injury, which can damage tissues if the process becomes chronic, lasting for longer periods of time.
Foods to include:
- Fibre: fibre found in vegetables, fruit and wholegrains has been widely associated with lower levels of anti-inflammatory markers.
- Foods containing probiotics (sauerkraut, natural yoghurt) and prebiotics (Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, leeks, onions and garlic) help to reduce inflammation.
- Vitamin D rich foods: sources include oily fish, shellfish, egg yolk, mushrooms and fortified foods. Suboptimal vitamin D levels have been associated with chronic inflammatory conditions.
- Oily fish: as well as being a great source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats, oily fish is one of the best food sources of vitamin D and high-quality protein. Aim for at least 3 portions of oily fish per week, organic if possible.
Virgin olive oil: recent scientific studies have identified a compound in olive oil that exhibits similar anti-inflammatory properties to ibuprofen. Other sources of healthy fats include eggs, nuts, seeds, organic grass-fed meat, coconut oil and avocado.
- Foods rich in vitamin A: good sources include organic liver and eggs. This vitamin is crucial for inflammatory support and for improving our immune function.
- Low sugar foods: consistent intake of refined carbohydrates (white rice, bread, pasta) can lead to spikes in blood glucose, which are strongly linked to inflammation.
- A rainbow of fruit and vegetables: these contain antioxidants which help to mop up the damaging free radicals that are produced during an inflammatory episode. Enrich your diet with as many deeply coloured fruit and veg as possible. Particularly helpful are orange and dark green vegetables, ginger, apples, onion, berries, brassica vegetables and blueberries.
- Turmeric and green tea have also been shown to modulate inflammation.
Foods to avoid:
- Limit your intake of red meat and dairy products, as they may be hard to digest and contain compounds which may increase inflammation in the body.
- Avoid refined sugars because of their blood glucose spiking effect. • Avoiding wheat, rye and barley for a few weeks is recommended to reduce inflammatory conditions.
- Stop smoking.
- Reduce or remove alcohol and caffeine.
- Avoid sources of toxic metals (such as tuna).
- Processed foods which can contain both artificial food additives and trans-fats. Many of these products contain food components that are not recognised by the body, therefore can trigger an immune reaction.