How Exercise and a Healthy Diet can Combat Arthritis
There is a chronic condition more powerful than obesity that exists in our current society. This condition has been around since the time of the dinosaurs, and it has been the constant pain and misery among 20% of the American population. The condition that I am talking about is arthritis. Arthritis, for those who are unaware, refers to a disease in which it affects the conditions of the joints, and the tissues that surround the joints. So far, there are over 100 different types of arthritis, which range from rheumatoid to gout. It most frequently affects the aging population but it can happen to people of all ages. Once it is there, there is no way to reverse it or make it go away completely.
There are, however, a few ways that you can learn to manage it, and decrease the rate of inflammation. So, we are going to go over, common types of arthritis and how they can be managed.
This is the most common diagnosis of the listed arthritic conditions in the United States. It is most likely caused through long-term wear and tear of joint tissues from daily life, specifically, the load bearing tissues such as back knee and hip. According to Wikipedia, “Osteoarthritis begins in the cartilage and eventually causes the two opposing bones to erode into each other. The condition starts with minor pain during physical activity, but soon the pain can be continuous and even occur while in a state of rest.”
This version of the disease is one that mostly affects the elderly population. Its biggest risk factors are previous joint trauma, obesity, and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle.
Mitigating this form of arthritis can be done through a combination of joint replacements, and weight management. And this totally makes sense. If you have less weight on your load bearing joints, your joints will have less strain and physical pressure to deal with.
This form of arthritis comes when your immune system starts attacking your own body’s tissue. When the tissue starts to decrease, the bones that the tissues connect to start to rub up against one another and erode upon friction. This form of arthritis can happen to people of all ages and has a slightly higher chance of happening to women. Its causes are largely unknown, but there is possible evidence that points to genetics, smoking and hormonal imbalances.
When left untreated, RA can distort your joints, causing pain, stiffness and limited movement. Patients who suffer from the disease would require treatment that would encourage the growth of antibodies and t-cells for the patient’s immune system. Unfortunately, it only treats the symptoms of the disease, making it a temporary solution to the problem. It does not cure the condition.
Some symptoms can be mitigated with regular exercise and a healthy diet. This is, again mostly for weight management purposes. The less weight your joints carry, and the more you move them around, the easier it will be for your body to prevent your joints from locking up too badly.
Lupus is another form of arthritis that stems from the immune system attacking itself. However, there are a few key difference between Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis. The first is that Lupus is caused by external factors, such as excessive exposure to sunlight, a recent infection or certain types of blood pressure medications. The second is that Lupus typically affects women from ages 14-45. Also, symptoms of lupus can come and go in “flare-ups” which include:
- Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling
- A butterfly-shaped rash on the face that covers the cheeks and bridge of the nose or rashes elsewhere on the body
- Skin lesions that appear or worsen with sun exposure (photosensitivity)
- Fingers and toes that turn white or blue when exposed to cold or during stressful periods (Raynaud’s phenomenon)
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Dry eyes
- Headaches, confusion and memory loss
Just like Rheumatoid Arthritis, there is no cure for the condition. However, it can be managed through a combination of medication, a healthy diet, and regular exercise.
The specialized diet mostly consists of fruits, vegetables, and healthy grains. The purpose of this diet is to increase your antioxidant intake and decrease your saturated fat intake. Saturated fats oftentimes contribute to flare-ups, so avoiding those would be best.
Gout is a condition that can affect anybody from the ages of 30-50 and it mainly involves the inflammation of the joints on your feet. This is because it is caused by an excess amount of uric acid in the bloodstream. Normally, your kidney filters out the excess uric acid in your bloodstream. However, when your kidneys do not filter enough of it, or if there is too much uric acid to filter out, urate crystals will accumulate in your joint, causing the inflammation and intense pain of a gout attack.
Your body produces uric acid when it breaks down purines.
Purines found in certain foods, such as steak, organ meats, and seafood. Other foods also promote higher levels of uric acid, such as alcoholic beverages, especially beer, and drinks sweetened with fruit sugar (fructose).
So, a healthy diet, combined with a lower body weight to prevent stress on your big toe is the answer to preventing Gout flare-ups.