Osteoarthritis is a condition in which our joints simply wear out. Damage to the tissue and cartilage is such that the pain caused significantly affects our quality of life. Despite growing awareness about fitness and exercise in recent years, there has been a three-fold increase in knee replacements for those who are in the 45 to 64 age range. We all need to know how to boost bone health and prevent the need for such medical procedures.
Maintaining a healthy weight can prevent the onset of osteoarthritis.
Every kilo puts more pressure on our hips and knees. Over time, this leads to breakdown of the cartilage that cushions these joints. One more reason to lose weight is that fat tissue produces proteins called cytokines which cause inflammation throughout the body, particularly in the joints. Losing even a few kilos can make a lot of difference in terms of joint stress and inflammation, and can cut risk of osteoarthritis by 50 percent.
Diabetes Risk Factor for Arthritis
Diabetes is another risk factor for osteoarthritis. Higher levels of glucose in the blood promote the formation of certain molecules which can make make cartilage stiffer and more prone to the effect of mechanical stress. Diabetes can also promote inflammation.
When it is injured, cartilage does not heal well, and when a joint is injured, arthritis is more likely to occur. Safety should be a key concern for those who play sports regularly. Wear protective gear and padding, whether your sport of choice is hockey or cricket. Take breaks to recover from exercise and use your largest, strongest joints for tasks like lifting or carrying.
Manage Diet Carefully
Diet is as important as exercise for prevention of osteo arthritis. Eat more foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A, C and E which have anti-inflammatory capabilities. They reduce symptoms of arthritis and can help prevent further damage to the joints.
Oily fish like salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel as well as supplements like fish oil, krill oil, chia seeds, walnuts or flaxseeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Oils like extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil and safflower oil are good for reducing inflammation and blood cholesterol.
Dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese are rich in vitamin D and calcium which can boost bone health. Dairy also has proteins that can help to build muscle.
Dark leafy greens like spinach and kale are rich in oxidants, Vitamin D and stress-fighting phytochemicals. Vitamin D is needed for calcium absorption and can also strengthen the immune system.
Broccoli has a compound called sulforaphane, which experts say can slow the progression of osteoarthritis. It is also rich in vitamins K and C, as well as calcium.
Green tea has polyphenols, antioxidants which can reduce inflammation and slow down damage to cartilage.
Nuts have high levels of calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin E, and fiber. They also contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which boosts the immune system and are good for the heart.
Choose the Right Exercise Program
Exercise is a double-edged sword when it comes to bone health. It offers many benefits, but in our zeal to exercise, we can damage hip and knee joints resulting in early onset of osteoarthritis. Older people just cannot exercise with the same intensity as those in their 20s and 30s.
Focus on low-impact exercises like walking, swimming, and biking. They strengthen the muscles around the knee and other key joints. Avoid high impact exercises like running, squatting and deep knee bending if you are older than 45 years of age. Performing stretching exercises every day can strengthen your back, hips, knees, and calf muscles so that muscles and tendons are more flexible. 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week is adequate to keep your joints in the best shape.
Maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly according to your age and fitness level can promote bone health. Knee replacement and hip replacement surgeries should be absolutely the last resort and should be carried out only when a person’s daily pain level has a significant impact on his quality of life.
Manju Mathew, an MBA in marketing, completed publisher training courses from the Oxford Brookes University and New York University. She started with marketing and PR roles before moving on to her current position as a full time writer. Currently living in Dubai, her life as an expat has sharpened her observation skills and flair for writing. She enjoys writing about luxury cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc even if she can only dream of owning them.
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