There are hundreds of types of arthritis, all of which affect the musculoskeletal system causing inflammation in the joints, leading to pain and limited mobility. Arthritis is the leading cause of disability and chronic pain, after back pain, in Australia
and can mean a diminished quality of life for those who suffer from it. Fortunately, there are some simple life choices which can help protect your joints and prevent the onset of arthritis.
Eat & Drink Well
In order to protect our joints it is important to look at what we are putting into our bodies. Cartilage is made up of a large amount of water, so when we are dehydrated water can be drawn out of our joints, giving them less cushioning
. As well as staying hydrated, it is vital to avoid foods which trigger systemic inflammation, such as trans fats.
Instead, opt for inflammation fighting foods like fish, soy (such as tofu or edamame) and avocados
Good Body Mechanics Are Key
By making good body mechanics a matter of habit, you can save a vast amount of stress on your joints. This means lifting heavy items with your legs, rather than your back, to save pressure on your joints and learning to sit and stand using the muscles in your legs and backside. Even making simple adjustments, like carrying heavy handbags over your shoulder instead of gripping them with your hands, can all go a long way to preserving the health of your joints.
Turmeric Based Supplements
A compound in turmeric (the root of a plant in the ginger family) known as Curcumin has been found to have anti-inflammatory effects
. When inflammation occurs, inflammatory substances rush to the joint, causing swelling, irritation and eventually the wearing down of the joint. Stopping inflammation in its tracks can help prevent the degradation of your joints and preserve your quality of life
Do The Right Exercises
Some jarring exercises can put extra stress on your joints, like long distance running, however exercising can be very helpful in preventing arthritis. By doing low impact exercise, like swimming, you take the weight and pressure off your joints and as you exercise the muscles and ligaments around your joint, you help stabilise the joint and protect it from injury. It is important to make sure you have a varied exercise routine encompassing things such as weight training, gentle cardio and stretching to keep your joints strong and healthy
Maintain A Healthy Weight
While maintaining a healthy weight is important for a variety of reasons pertaining to your health, the protection of your joints is definitely a big one of them. Carrying just five extra kilograms of weight can increase the pressure on your joints by up to 25 kilograms, wearing the cartilage and bones down prematurely
. Keeping your weight within a healthy range will give more life to your joints as well as lowering the risk of other health complications like heart attack and stroke.
Arthritis can be a debilitating disease, however with some simple lifestyle tweaks you can work to prevent its onset or deterioration, keeping you doing the things you love for longer, pain free.
Yang W, Fu J, Yu M, Wang D, Rong Y, Yao P, Nüssler AK, Yan H, Liu L. Effects of three kinds of curcuminoids on anti-oxidative system and membrane deformation of human peripheral blood erythrocytes in high glucose levels. Cell Physiol Biochem. 2015;35(2):789-802. doi: 10.1159/000369738. Epub 2015 Jan 30. PubMed PMID: 25634758.