- Aging & Longevity
Healthy Diet and Exercise for Osteoarthritis Patients
There are some 200 kinds of arthritis but osteoarthritis is one of the most common forms.
Osteoarthritis is an inflammatory degenerative disease which develops as a result of wear and tear of our joints. In osteoarthritis the cartilage which exists in a joint and helps the bones to move smoothly becomes damaged or inflamed causing pain stiffness.
The pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis normally gets worse during cold and damp weather or during and after physical activity.
People that have done a lot of manual work throughout their lives are more likely to develop this type of arthritis, and any joint can be affected but the joints in hips and knees are more likely to be affected.
A Diet for Osteoarthritis
Someone suffering from osteoarthritis should review their diet. It is important to cut down on salt, processed foods, saturated fats and sugar.
Going back to basics is a really good idea and introducing less acidic foods is important as well. Fruits like oranges can be very acidic and the acid from oranges can cause further inflammation in the joints.
Eating fresh fruit and vegetables is vital to boost the body's immune system but with osteoarthritis, and other forms of arthritis, it is important to be selective. Pineapples contain bromelain which is good but they are very acid.
Beetroot is another excellent vegetables which should be included in your daily diet if you have osteoarthritis. It is packed with vitamin C and iron both which help to cleanse the body, and reduce inflammation. If you don't like beetroot try using beetroot leaves in salads, or making your own beetroot sprouts. Two table spoons of beetroot sprouts per day is the same as eating four actual beets.
Avocado is another must eat vegetable. The oil in avocado is great for lubrication and avocados are not acidic.
All dark green vegetables such as kale, broccoli and spinach should be included in your diet.
Look out for wholegrain foods and seeds. When choosing a bread try to make sure you pick a bread which has a high whole grain content, and you may want to look out for breads containing flax seed or pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds and flax seeds contain lignans which are super strong anti oxidants and can be a great help for the body.
If you make your own muesli, or use a store bought variety, consider adding flax seeds to your muesli.
Wholegrain foods are also full of vitamin B which is vital for the nervous system, and a diet rich in B vitamin foods can help to reduce pain as well give the body more energy to heal itself.
When you have osteoarthritis you should go nuts about nuts. Not only do nuts contain healthy nut oils but they are packed with vitamin E which helps to support vitamin C against inflammation. One of the best nuts to eat is the humble walnut along with Brazil nuts as they both contain selenium. Selenium helps to control swelling, and stiffness. It is a trace element in our diet but when you suffer inflammatory disease your body needs more selenium.
Unsalted peanuts or peanut butter is also very good as it is not acidic, and contains some really good helpful minerals.
Fish and Meat
Removing red meat from your diet is another important point. The body needs to produce more acidic when digesting red meat and this is eventually released into the blood stream.
Good alternatives are chicken and other poultry meats such as turkey.
Best of all is cold water oily fish such as mackerel, tuna, herring, trout and salmon. All cold water fish is full of Omega 3 essential fatty acids. Omega 3 essential fatty acids are the first line of defense against inflammatory disease, and will reduce inflammation rapidly.
It is recommended you try to eat oily fish two to three times per week if you have osteoarthritis.If you do not like fish the alternative would be to take a fish oil supplement on a daily basis.
Exercising for osteoarthritis
Until recently most osteoarthritis patients were told to take it very easy with exercise.
This is partly true and any type of impact exercise is not recommended however doctors now realize it is important to keep joints flexible and moving freely.
Regular exercise can help to reduce joint pain and swelling, and going for walks also helps to increase vital vitamin D for bone health. Wear shoes that fit well and there are some really great walking, hiking shoes on the market which give your ankles extra support.
Stretching exercises are great as well as they support the tendons and muscles which help your joints.
Tai-chi is very gentle, yoga is good as well but almost everyone that I have spoken to find they get more help from pilates.
Pilates is a strengthening exercise and it also works on the joints increasing joint mobility and ads flexibility.
Give any new exercise 4 - 8 weeks to work and you should start noticing a difference in your flexibility, mobility and overall better health.
If you are experiencing pain you may be doing too much and you need to pull back until you find a comfortable level which to work at. It is important to find an exercise routine which is sustainable and that you are not going to walk away from because you are experiencing pain or discomfort.
Health Benefits of Walking
Scientists are finding out more and more about the health benefits of walking.
Fast cardiovascular walking is a great exercise for the heart, but if you suffer joint pain in may not be that great for you.
Researchers recently asked a test group of 66 people to go for slower walks, but at the same time pay attention to the sights and sound of nature. 54 out of the 66 walkers suffered joints problems, and early signs of arthritis.
At the end of 4 weeks doctors checked up on the group of walkers, and discovered something amazing. All participants blood pressure had dropped, and there was a significant increase in memory recall. The walkers who suffered joint problems benefited the most.
They were now experiencing less pain, and blood tests showed that they had less inflammatory indicators in their blood. But they also spoke more passionately about the beauty of nature than the other in the group.
It seemed like the walks had allowed their bodies to take a break from their physical problems, and increased their sense of well being.
I do wonder if they are still walking . . .