Bump, bump, bump. Annie lifted her head from the watermelon patch she was weeding, listening attentively. The sound was coming from the garage, but it sounded different from what she was used to hearing. She adjusted her hat and stood up to follow the noise. It was a cool day when she started working in the garden, but now it was pleasantly warmer, making it a good day for gardening. LJ and she had planted many fruits and vegetables since early winter, and they were all beginning to grow fast; some were already flowering or producing fruit.

Annie went to the garage, expecting what she’d find there. Sure enough, LJ was finishing the installation of the last section of insulation on the inside panels. “That should stop the garage door from acting as a heat conductor this summer,” he commented, standing upright. He absentmindedly massaged his lower back.

“Does your back hurt?”

“All the bending and crouching has given my lower back quite a workout. I’m going to the club, sit in the steam room, and stretch to help loosen up my muscles.

“Alright, hold on—before you go, I made a lemon, ginger, and turmeric iced tea with anti-inflammatory properties. We also have green tea, packed with an antioxidant called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). It reduces the production of certain inflammatory chemicals in the body. Which one would you like?”

“The lemon and ginger sounds great. Can I take some in my water bottle too? Thanks!”

“I wonder,” Annie pondered, “If you are feeling stiff due to an unnatural way of moving around. It’s been a long time since you had to bend and crouch down, so perhaps that is causing your lower back pain. However, if it’s something else, maybe I should make an appointment with your doctor. What do you think?”

“You mean to rule out arthritis? I’ve thought about that because this back pain has been going on for a while, and my fingers are feeling stiff. Yeah, I’ll go to the doctor. I’m not sure what arthritis is or how it affects you except for having stiff joints.”

“Well,” Annie said, arthritis is a degenerative joint disease that can cause pain and swelling where bones connect. There are several types, but one of the most common is osteoarthritis, caused by joint wear and tear over time. Certain foods can help manage inflammation and protect your joints from damage.”

“Like what?” LJ asked, curiously.

“Omega-3 fatty acids in fish like salmon and nuts like flaxseed can help reduce inflammation. Also, leafy greens high in antioxidants, like spinach and kale, may prevent joint damage. And fruits with anti-inflammatory properties like cherries and berries can also provide relief,” Annie explained.

“Really? ” LJ said as he sipped the iced tea. “What are the other foods?”

” Almonds and walnuts, which are high in protein and healthy fats. Other helpful foods include turmeric, ginger, and garlic; they possess anti-inflammatory properties that can decrease the symptoms of inflammation.”

“I read vitamin C, found in citrus fruits, helps with collagen production, the key component of cartilage that contributes to joint flexibility,” LJ stated. “Also, extra virgin olive oil is a great source of healthy fats and provides oleocanthal, which has similar effects to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Want to do some grocery shopping when I return from the gym?”

“Sure,” Annie agreed. “Taking care of our bodies is essential, especially as we age. Eating a healthy diet and regular exercise can help maintain our joint health and overall well-being.”

LJ nodded in agreement as he finished his iced tea. “Thanks for the tea and tips. I should be back in a couple of hours.”

“Okay,” Annie said with a smile. “I’m going to finish the weeding, but I’ll be ready to go when you get home.”

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