You can reduce your risk and delay some arthritis: Eat healthy, lose weight, and exercise. Knowing how to prevent arthritis helps you fend off the effects of aging.
By simply changing a few lifestyle habits, you can greatly reduce your risk of getting arthritis. It’s really that simple. And if you already have arthritis, you can diminish the number of flair ups by making healthy lifestyle adjustments.
Please note that some things are out of our control. Your age, family history, and gender play a major role in your health. Some forms of arthritis are heredity. More women than men get arthritis. And as we age, we are at increased risk of developing symptoms of arthritis. Yet knowing how to prevent arthritis can help you slow the aging process.
How to prevent arthritis
Despite heredity, gender, and family history, it’s quite possible to reduce and slow down our risk of getting arthritis. Your first line of action is to look at your diet. Are you eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables? Fresh fruits are loaded with antioxidants, which fight inflammation. Vegetables like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage contain a compound called sulforaphane; it may help slow cartilage damage in joints. You can cook these vegetables or eat them raw in salads.
Other ways to prevent arthritis
- Eating nuts and seeds. They are full of inflammation-fighting monounsaturated fat. You can sprinkle them on your whole-grain cereals, salads, or eat them raw.
- Enjoy salmon, tuna, trout, and mackerel. These fatty fish contain omega-3, which fights inflammation.
- Lose weight. Carrying extra body fat puts stress on joints. However, for every one pound of weight you lose, you reduce the load on your knees by a half pound.
- Exercise helps you drop pounds, which eliminates weight on your joints. It also strengthens your muscles. Try walking one mile a day to start and slowly increase up to five or more miles depending on how you feel. Swimming is recommended because it doesn’t stress any of your joints and can give you a good cardio workout. Stretching, yoga, and aerobic activities are also beneficial. Start slow if you’re new to exercise, and don’t forget to talk to your doctor first.
- Ditch the high heels, or wear them only once in a while. Constantly wearing high heels damages your body. High heels alter the natural shape of your feet, which can cause joint pain.
- Take vitamin D. Vitamin D supplements can reduce your risk of osteoarthritis. Talk to you doctor about how much you should be taking and for a lab test to see if your vitamin D levels are low.
- Drink water. The cartilage in our body acts as a cushion for our joints. It’s mostly made of water. When we’re dehydrated, the cartilage in our joints becomes dry, too. Dry cartilage is more easily damaged by wear and tear. Drinking water is an excellent lubricant.
- Quit smoking. Smoking can increase the risk of some types of arthritis and can worsen the level of arthritic pain.
- Wear protective gear to avoid injuries. If you are embarking on a new sport or are a pro, you’ll need to wear the right shoes, helmets, and other gear to avoid any injuries during contact sports. Injuries can cause joint cartilage to tear, and damage caused by playing sports as an adolescent or young adult translates to symptoms as an older adult. Wearing protective gear lessens your risk of getting hurt and developing arthritis.
If you suspect you have arthritis, talk to your doctor. Arthritis is a progressive disease, and your doctor may recommend other treatments.
August 30, 2017
Christopher Nystuen, MD, MBA