Helping Arthritis Through Diet and Physical Activity

With so many people experiencing many different types of joint pain, it sometimes makes it hard to for doctors to get to the root of the cause and recommend the best treatments. Obviously, at the first sign of symptoms, you should see your doctor for an examination to determine the reason for your joint pain. However, one thing that can be done even as you are awaiting your results is adopting a healthy lifestyle.

Proper nutrition and exercise is beneficial for any person, but is absolutely critical for arthritics. If symptoms are ignored and people continue with their same poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyles, that will only make arthritis symptoms worse. But, how do you know what to eat or what type of exercise is safe?

Depending on each person’s individual case, doctors may recommend specific lifestyle changes, but in general it is important to maintain a healthy body weight. One of the biggest risk factors for arthritis is being overweight. Not only does eating right and exercising help to keep the extra pounds off, but there are other benefits as well.

Proper Nutrition

One fact about diet and arthritis is that omega-3 fatty acids decrease inflammation. Eating foods such as cold water fish (like mackerel, trout and salmon), flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, soybeans, spinach or broccoli can give your diet a boost of omega-3s. Broccoli not only contains omega-3s, but also vitamins C and K and a compound called sulforaphane, which can help slow the progression of osteoarthritis.

When cooking with oils, choose olive, canola or flaxseed oil instead of corn, safflower or sunflower oils. According to the Arthritis Foundation, look for anti-inflammatory fruits such as cherries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. Calcium and vitamin D are also important in your diet and can be found in dairy products like milk, yogurt and cheese. If dairy doesn’t agree with you, green leafy vegetables will also work.

Get Moving!

Some people think that exercise is bad for arthritis because it causes stress on joints, when it actually helps joint range of motion and builds up muscle strength around joints. Overtraining or extreme exercise may not be a good idea, but regular exercise such as walking, biking, jogging and stretching will improve elasticity of joints and lessen the pain and stiffness often brought on by arthritis.

Before beginning any exercise regimen, always check with a doctor, physical therapist or other health professional who is familiar with your diagnosis and symptoms. Seeing a physical therapist to learn specific exercises you can do at home to improve your condition can be very helpful in incorporating appropriate physical activity on a daily basis.

In Summary

There are various types and severities of arthritis, but you can bet that all of them can benefit from a nutritious diet that keeps you at a healthy weight and has anti-inflammatory properties to help ease joint discomfort. Add in some basic exercises to help with range of motion and pain reduction, and you’ll be feeling better in no time!