This blog, in honor of National Occupational Therapy month, is dedicated to giving you the superfoods that will let you recover, heal, work, compete, and live your best. Take the load off your healthcare team, and take charge of your own health with these strategies. In this article I cover:
From your skin to your bones and everything in between, your connective tissue is what harmonizes your entire body. Your connective tissue includes all the elements of your musculoskeletal system (bone, cartilage, tendons, fascia, ligaments, and muscles), the structural elements of your skin, the lining of your blood vessels, and interestingly your blood. Yep, blood counts as a type of connective tissue too! Connective tissue is a huge subject, so we’re going to focus on the practical tactics that improve your entire system, blood to bone. This is your guide to how to eat for total connective tissue health.
One key related tissue is called the extracellular matrix. This is the in between space that communicates signals, relays messages, and allows your other tissues to glide freely. Effortless motion is afforded by glycosaminoglycans like lubricin, hyaluronan, and glucosamine. The simplest ー and possibly most impactful ー is hyaluronic acid. You’ll be hard pressed to find a good dietary source of these, but how you eat helps determine whether they function properly in an anti-inflammatory environment, or if they’re being inhibited by inflammation.
The web of connective tissue that helps hold this extracellular space, and all your other connective tissues for that matter, is fascia. You might think of fascia as the connective tissue that holds your other connective tissue - and as the junction between your circulatory system, your nervous system, and your connective tissue, it’s health is critical for your wellbeing. Recent research has uncovered the link between the vasodilating effect of nitric oxide and the communication signals of this weblike tissue, suggesting that your complete connective tissue system is more integrated than researchers have thought!
Resync’s mission is to help you live a healthier life, and ensure your body is able to do exactly what you want it to do, day after day for decades to come. You might not realize how much we take our connective tissue for granted, but you know the moment you’re injured or when your doctor says you’ve got low bone mineral density, that it always pays off to treat your body right. As the tissues that make possible everything you physically do in life, healthy connective tissue is key to a happy, healthy life!
Ask five registered dietitian nutritionists what to eat for bones and joints, injury prevention or healing, supple skin and tissue health and you’ll notice a few nutrients pop up again and again.
Calcium is essential for calcifying the type I collagen your bones are mostly made of. Vitamin D ensures that this process is regulated in the right way. Magnesium is the key to the lock that opens vitamin D up to its potential.
Unfortunately, most people don’t get enough calcium, vitamin D, or magnesium. These are low hanging fruit for people looking for better bone and joint health; many people take a supplement when their diet doesn’t get them what they need.
Unfortunately, calcium from most typical supplements might be linked with heart disease. More bioactive forms of calcium, and when calcium is combined with vitamin D, might not pose the same risk, and calcium from food is well researched to be good for your heart, blood, and all of your connective tissue, but it’s just one piece of the puzzle.
You’ll find calcium in any dairy products, fortified non-dairy alternatives, canned fish, and red and green leafy vegetables. If you supplement, calcium fructoborate appears to be highly bioavailable and few supplements beat going straight to the source, plain bone meal powder.
The vitamin that is most deficient in the US and in the world is vitamin D. There are few good sources in food, so research points to 200 to 800 IUs of supplemental vitamin D per day being best. Some people might need more, but shouldn’t overdo it, especially since recent studies have shown no effect or even a negative effect of taking too much vitamin D!
Phosphorus and fluoride are incredibly important for your connective tissues like bones, but it’s likely that you’re getting plenty of each. Fluoride is almost universally fortified in drinking water, and you actually probably want to make sure you’re not getting too much phosphorus since it’s found in so many processed foods and soft drinks.
Potassium on the other hand is an essential nutrient that Americans are not getting enough of. Low potassium (combined with high sodium, see below) can have a serious effect on your blood and your bone health. You can find potassium in apricots, fruit, potatoes (with skin), vegetables, dairy, tea, coffee, meat and whole grains.
Sodium works in opposition to potassium; potassium has a blood pressure lowering effect, but sodium causes it to increase. Ultimately the hormonal changes caused by this imbalance can lead to demineralization of your bone and connective tissues.
To keep your heart and connective tissue health in check, limit your salt and try more healthy potassium-rich foods! Learn more about potassium, sodium, and heart health in this article.
Collagen is essentially the glue that holds everything in your body together. So if you think about it, the health of your collagen has a lot to do with the health of you!
Pretty much anything that has to do with your connective tissue can be improved with a collagen supplement. I know that’s a pretty bold statement, but hear me out - logically it makes sense and the research backs it up.
Your body makes less and less collagen as you age, so you may want to support it with the right nutrition so you can keep making an optimal amount of collagen.
Supplementing with collagen has been shown to increase the integrity of all of your connective tissue, so it’s up to you to keep your skin glowing and your joints and bones healthy as you age.
Nitric oxide (“N-O” for short”) is a simple molecule with profound effects. Doctors know how it makes blood vessels relax. Athletes know how it can decrease your oxygen use. It’s well-researched effects on your gut, your brain, and even the mitochondria that power your cells are relatively unknown in popular media.
The main function of nitric oxide is to open up your blood vessels and promote blood flow and nutrient delivery. Not only is blood important as a connective tissue in its own right, but your blood is what nourishes every single part of your body.
One thing that stands out in the research, but doesn’t seem to get much press, is the link between healthy nitric oxide levels and bone health. It makes sense: nitric oxide relaxes your blood vessels to oxygenate your muscles, tendons, and other tissues, so why wouldn’t it do the same for your bones, where your red blood cells come from?
But you can’t just eat a nitric oxide pill and call it good - they don’t exist. Your body makes nitric oxide from L-arginine and from natural plant-based nitrates, like in red spinach (also called amaranth), aronia berry, red beetroot, and other green leafy veggies. Learn more about whole food nitric oxide boosters on this blog.
I’ll let you in on a little-known secret though, the research shows that L-arginine doesn’t do much for your nitric oxide levels; if you want to bump up your nitric oxide, you’re better off with nitrates.
If there is one ingredient to avoid for connective tissue health, it’s sugar.
When it comes to sugar and your muscles, bones, tendons, fascia, joints and blood, high blood sugar binds to your collagen and locks out its function. This process is called glycation, and those permanent bonds are called “advanced glycation endproducts”. These AGEs lead to dryness, less elasticity, impair skin healing, and acne breakouts.
Let’s go deeper. Collagen cross-linked by sugar is one of the biggest causes of the secondary health problems of diabetes. Collagen in the peripheral blood vessels stiffens with these crosslinks, which means you get a decrease in blood to the feet and the toes.
Those same crosslinks caused by sugar that lead to visibly poorer skin also get in the way of muscle contractions. Crosslinks stiffen up the elastin in your tendons and ligaments, making you more stiff and prone to injury. This “sugaring” of your collagen hardens arteries, stiffens joints, decreases circulation, and increases your chance of physical injury (Aoki et al.; Lien et al.; Khosravi et al.). To top it all off, the ill-effects persist all the way down to your bones: AGEs increase your risk for bone fracture and osteoporosis regardless of bone mineral density (Yamamoto and Sugimoto).
No matter which way you look at it, chronic uncontrolled blood sugar leads to stiffer tissues, less functional muscles, and less resilience at every level of your body. A can of soda should have a warning “this product is known to lead to wrinkles, saggy skin, and accelerated aging. Consume at your own risk.”
Beyond this, the research is a little less developed. But there’s a reason to believe that vitamin K2, active vitamin A (the kind you find in liver), a spread of vitamin E types, and plant polyphenols all have a place in a healthy diet that contributes to better connective tissue health.
There is another class of nutrients your body makes to keep your tissues gliding smoothly and efficiently. Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), chondroitin sulfate, other sulfur sources, and glycosaminoglycans like glucosamine and hyaluronic acid all have a critical role in connective tissue function.
These are hard to find in whole food sources, but bone broth can have them, especially if it’s home made. Your body can make them too, but if you’re feeling and seeing the symptoms of insufficiency, then you might also want to consider supplementing.
If you want to know about the specifics of polyphenols, phytochemicals, and functional bioactive for connective tissue health, check out my recently published ebook: Recover Every Layer of Your Body: 40 Science-Based Recipes For Better Sleep, Faster Recovery and Healthier Connective Tissues.
If you can’t tell already, what you eat has a huge impact on your connective tissue health. Depending on how you eat, you the research shows that diet can help you improve:
That’s because your connective tissue literally touches every piece of your entire body. Your blood is a matrix of nutrients that bathes your musculoskeletal system in nutrition, make sure it’s giving you the right nutrients to thrive every day!
Think of your diet as a balance, with the fire of inflammation on one side and the healing nature of anti-inflammatory antioxidants. You need both sides, but you have to keep a balance. Unfortunately the modern life has that scale always tipped towards inflammation, so you have to make sure your diet has everything your body needs to function its best
Today we all have a higher exposure to pollution, processed foods, sedentary lifestyles, and all kinds of other inflammatory triggers present in modern day life. That means that some people should consider supplementing to improve their connective tissues. People with chronic conditions or injuries might be able to set their body straight by including a supplement as well. Eating the right things it’s always the best choice to set yourself up for success, but sometimes you just need some other support so talk to your healthcare provider about these!
What makes the best collagen supplement out there?
Resync checks every one of these boxes. Natural nitric oxide precursors & hydrolyzed collagen peptides combined with hyaluronic acid and your recommended daily value of the antioxidant vitamin C ensures that no other supplement supports your connective tissue and cardiovascular health better than Resync.
These natural peptides are optimized for digestibility and can support the health of your gut, skin, muscles, joints, other connective tissue, and even your hair and nails. A proprietary blend of natural nitric oxide precursors provides antioxidants, phytochemicals, and nitrates help boost the effectiveness of this collagen blend.
Add to this the fact that the collagen in Resync comes from quality-certified and predominantly grass-fed sources, and it becomes clear why resync is the best collagen supplement of 2021.
If you haven’t given this product a shot, taste the passion fruit flavor and一just like NBA player Lance Thomas says一you’ll see the results!
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Helping you lead a healthier life,
The Resync Team
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Written by Barbara Depta and registered dietitian, Detrick Snyder, MPH, RDN. Updated on 3/29/2021.
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