One-in-six people live with some form of arthritis. That is an incredible amount of people living with pain and disability from inflammation and joint degeneration. Two-thirds of those are women, and 3-out-of-5 are younger than age 65, so it’s not an older adult’s disease, although the longer you live, the more likely it is that you will have pain and discomfort from arthritis.
There are many types of arthritis, but in general, the term refers to pain or swelling in the joints.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, and it can be isolated to a specific joint, such as in the fingers or a knee, etc. It is very commonly the result of wear and tear or injury.
When you look at a person who’s done heavy manual labour for decades, you will see this type of degeneration in the areas that have taken the most abuse, such as the lower back. Whenever you subject the human body to repetitive pounding such as running a jackhammer doing concrete work, digging ditches, climbing ladders, the result accelerates degeneration and inflammation.
The second most common type is rheumatoid, and it is an autoimmune disease, which means the body is fighting an internal war with its immune system. The joints can be directly impacted, becoming swollen, hot, and movement is painful.
Is there anything we can do to reduce the risk of developing arthritis? In most cases, yes, but not always. Generally speaking, there are contributing factors that we can control:
Obesity – Just standing your knee joints are loaded at a rate of 1.5 times your weight, add in walking, hill climbing, or squatting, and that increases significantly. Imagine going for a walk and adding two 20 lbs. sacks of flour, and yet that is not an unusual amount of extra weight to be carrying around. Packing excess weight all day, year in and out, gradually breaks down the joints leading to degeneration and inflammation.
Obesity leads to proteins circulated in the body that cause inflammation in seemingly unrelated areas such as the hands. When you are too old for birth control, start worrying about girth control.
Diet changes – Reducing the intake of foods that cause inflammation is recommended. The diet that is recommended specifically for arthritis is the Mediterranean diet. Having travelled in Italy, I can attest to the wonderful foods and tastes prevalent in that part of the world. This type of healthy eating is heavy on fish, omega 3, fruits and vegetables and light on red meats.
A high-fibre diet rich in veggies and fruits plus nuts, legumes, and whole grains helps prevent inflammation and contributes to sustainable weight loss. It is also associated with lower risks of dementia, lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
What to avoid – Diet drinks, sugary drinks, pop of any kind, refined foods made from white flour, box cereal, sugary foods, and smoking
Exercise – Tune in next week.
Ron Cain is the owner of Sooke Mobile Personal Training. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.