If you’re one of the 54 million people suffering from joint degeneration, otherwise known as arthritis, you know all too well how the pain and discomfort can impact the quality of your life. According to the Arthritis Foundation, there are more than 100 different types of arthritis, with the two most common types being osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
While arthritis can be diagnosed at any age, it typically affects people over the age of 65. As you get older, the cartilage that cushions your bones wears down over time, resulting in inflammation, stiffness and pain. You can develop arthritic symptoms in any joint in your body but it most often affects the spine, neck, hips, knees and hands.
While you cannot control the risks associated with your age, gender or genetics, there are some risks that you can minimize by changing certain behaviors or circumstances which can delay the onset of arthritis. If you currently have healthy joints, there are many things you can do to maintain mobility and function while preventing the inflammation and disability associated with arthritis.
Regular exercise can significantly improve joint health by preventing or slowing joint degeneration. Focus on low-impact exercise programs that include strength training and aerobic exercise. Some of the most beneficial activities are walking, swimming, yoga and water aerobics. These exercises maintain healthy joints by increasing bone and muscle strength. They also relieve stiffness by extending range of motion and flexibility.
Preventing cartilage loss and reducing inflammation through diet is one way you can prevent or delay the onset of arthritis. Having a well-rounded diet provides the essential antioxidants, vitamins s and minerals that supports the development of healthy tissue and bone formation.
A joint-supporting eating plan includes:
Just like a well-oiled machine, your joints need lubrication to move smoothly and comfortably. Considering cartilage is made up of 65% to 80% water, it’s no wonder drinking plenty of water is important for healthy joints. Try to drink at least 64 ounces of water throughout the day to reap the benefits of regular hydration.
Excess weight can place stress on your bones and joints. The extra weight can accelerate the deterioration of joint cartilage, increasing your risk of developing osteoarthritis. For every pound you lose, the pressure on your knee joint is reduced by 4 pounds. A weight-maintenance or a weight-loss plan should be viewed as long-term. Eating a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains and lean protein sources, is more sustainable than a very restrictive diet that eliminates any major food groups.
Many take joint health — and its many valuable functions — for granted, until there is a problem. By taking the aforementioned dietary and lifestyle factors into account, you can optimize your joint health, which will allow you to move your body more freely and comfortably and thus improve the quality of your life.