Osteoarthritis Diet + Exercise Plan

Published: 17th November 2006
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The most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis affects nearly 20 million people. More than half of the population over the age of 65 is afflicted with this disease in at least one of their joints.



Osteoarthritis, a degenerative condition, is a form of arthritis that causes the gradual breakdown of the cartilage that cushions the joints, resulting in bones rubbing against bones. This cause stiffness and pain when movement is attempted. Osteoarthritis most commonly affects weight-bearing joints such as the knees and hips. It also is common in the fingers.



DIET AND OSTEOARTHRITIS:



FOODS TO AVOID: There are several factors that contribute to the disease; the ageing process, joint injury and being overweight. There are some foods that should be avoided if at all possible from your diet.



The nightshade family of vegetables including tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and potatoes are specific allergens for many people with arthritis. Dairy products, orange juice, wheat, and corn are often responsible for food allergies. Eliminate all the suspect foods from your diet for at least one month. If your arthritis improves, gradually reintroduce the foods, one at a time (every seven days). This way, you can determine which food is causing problems.



Decrease your consumption of all animal products other than fish. This should help reduce the inflammation in the joints. It is also very important to eliminate alcohol, coffee, sugar, saturated and hydrogenated fat, and excess salt.



FOODS TO INCLUDE: A joint-friendly diet should be rich in fruits and vegetables.



*Fruit:

Those high in Vitamin C like strawberries, raspberries, kiwi, peaches, mango, and cantaloupe.



*Vegetables:

Those high in Vitamin A (beta-carotene) and Vitamin C. Carrots, squash, sweet potato, spinach, kale, broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts.



*Anti-Inflammatory Foods:

Ginger, garlic and apples.



*Oily Fish:

Rich omega-3 essential fatty acids and high in Vitamin E like salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, tuna and trout.



*Nuts and Seeds:

Rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids and high in Vitamin E. Unsalted nuts like walnuts, brazil nuts and almonds, and seeds like sunflower and pumpkin seeds.



*Pulses and Grains

Lentils, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), brown rice, and whole grains (breads, cereals, pastas,etc.).



*Drink at least 48 ounces of pure water every day.





EXERCISE AND OSTEOARTHRITIS:



EXERCISE: One of the best forms of treatment and prevention is exercise. It strengthens the muscular support around the joints and improves joint mobility and function.



There are three types of exercise that are beneficial in the treatment of osteoarthritis:



*Stretching exercises - help reduce stiffness and increase joint movement and flexibility.



*Strengthening exercises - increase muscle strength. Strong muscles help support and protect the joints that are affected by arthritis.



*Aerobic exercises - improve cardiovascular fitness, control weight and improve the body's overall function.



Start with a warm-up and begin exercising slowly. Resting frequently will reduce the risk of injury. Before beginning any type of exercise program, consult your doctor to find out which exercises are appropriate for you and which exercises you should avoid.



While you cannot prevent osteoarthritis, you can eliminate or decrease your symptoms by eating a joint-preserving diet, maintain your ideal weight, and exercise regularly. Exercise also helps control weight and improves mental outlook by releasing feel-good chemicals in our brains.



Remember, being overweight not only carries a highly increased risk of developing osteoarthritis, it increases your risk of many other ailments and diseases.



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