Eating nutritious food, maintaining a healthy weight and getting adequate physical activity are some of the best ways to manage arthritis pain and promote overall health.
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Our weight has a significant impact on our body. Did you know that for every pound of body weight you lose, there is a four-pound reduction of stress on your knees? If you have arthritis, losing weight is one effective way of breaking the arthritis pain chain.
It’s not just about the physical pressure on weight-bearing joints. Research has shown that overweight and obese people are more likely to have arthritis in their hands. Scientists are proving that fat cells release chemicals into the body that promote inflammation, furthering the link between obesity and arthritis.
Weight management is about balancing the number of calories you consume from foods and beverages with the number of calories your body uses (in normal body functions, daily activities and exercise).
A proper diet is essential to maintaining a healthy weight. Furthermore, certain foods can have a beneficial effect on your arthritis. Eating nutrient-dense foods will make it easy to consume an appropriate number of calories while getting all the vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and protein you need. Eating high-calorie, nutrient-poor foods can set you up for weight gain and feeling unwell.
Studies have shown that people with arthritis (particularly inflammatory arthritis like RA) can benefit from eating a Mediterranean diet that focuses on fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, beans and extra virgin olive oil.
People with gout have specific dietary limitations to reduce uric acid in their bodies. You may need to limit or eliminate foods high in purines. Alcohol may also increase uric acid levels. Talk to your doctor about the right gout diet for you.
Some medicines you take for arthritis can affect your nutritional status. (Methotrexate, for example, can leave you deficient of folic acid.) Talk to your health-care provider about your medications and whether a vitamin supplement might be right for you.
Moving your body is one of the best things you can do for arthritis. Physical activity is defined as any movement by your muscles that require you to use energy. It begins when you wake up and includes all your daily activities, like getting the mail, playing, working, recreation and chores. Exercise is a type of physical activity that is planned and structured. A key goal of exercise is to improve or maintain physical fitness.
Regular movement helps to strengthen your muscles, tendons and ligaments, taking the pressure off your joints and reducing your pain. It delays the onset of disability, improves independence, boosts endurance, helps control your weight, lowers the risk of heart disease and diabetes and enhances your overall quality of life.
Make sure to talk to your doctor before beginning a new exercise program. You may want to talk to a certified fitness instructor to get tips on the best exercises for people with arthritis or visit Your Exercise Solution to get tips and exercise modifications personalized to you.
Start slowly, and increase your pace and intensity gradually so you don’t worsen your joint pain. As you become more fit, the extra movement may leave your muscles tired, so make sure to alternate rest with physical activity. But muscle soreness should not stop you from exercising. If you have more joint pain or experience a flare, listen to your body.