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Lifestyle Changes That Can Prevent Arthritis

Aug 28, 2008
Do you think arthritis strikes only the old? If so, you are wrong. Only 40% of people with arthritis are over 65. Plus the stress on joints can begin ten to twenty years before people experience any pain.

There are more than a hundred kinds of arthritis but one of the most common is osteoarthritis which involves deterioration of joint cartilage - the rubbery tissue at the end of your bones that permits smooth movement and absorbs shock. The symptoms are pain, stiffness in joints and difficulty in moving joints. All of these can be debilitating and seriously affect the quality of your life so it pays to incorporate some lifestyle strategies which will protect your joints.

One of the major causes of osteoarthritis is excess weight and obesity. Those extra pounds exert pressure on your joints accelerating the loss of shock-absorbing cartilage. Losing just eleven pounds will substantially reduce your risk.

Nutrition plays an important part in preventing osteoarthritis. For instance, a diet high in Vitamin C will not only cut your risk of developing arthritis; it will even slow its progression in people who have OA. Vitamin C attacks free radicals before they have an opportunity to damage joint tissue. It also stimulates the enzymes involved in building healthy new cartilage. However, the vitamin C should come from foods such as oranges, grapefruit, and kiwi rather than supplements. Vitamin C rich foods have other nutrients that will maximize the vitamin's benefits.

Vitamin K also helps in repairing and building joint tissue. Studies have demonstrated 200 mcg of Vitamin K a day will provide protection from arthritis. Kale, Swiss chard, parsley, spinach, broccoli and Brussels sprouts are all rich in Vitamin K. Cook the greens in olive oil or, if you are eating them in a salad, add olive oil to the dressing. Vitamin K is fat-soluble and the olive oil improves your absorption.

Look for foods that are rich in selenium as selenium is known to help reduce swelling and maintain healthy joint tissue. High levels of selenium can be found in sunflower seeds which make a great mid-afternoon or evening snack. Other selenium-rich foods are pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, shrimp, salmon, tuna, snapper, and lamb.

Seventy percent of the cartilage in joints is composed of water which is a major player in joint lubrication. So it is important to drink the recommended quantity of water every day. Do not count sodas, coffee or tea as a substitute for water. They either act as a diuretic or else they contain ingredients that can interfere with water absorption.

A sedentary life also increases the risk for arthritis. If you work all day at a computer and then go home and spend the evening watching TV you are inviting muscular weakness. You need regular exercise. It doesn't have to be strenuous, just regular. However some exercises such as jogging and tennis wear down the cartilage in your leg and hip joints.

Biking is a recommended exercise because the smooth, repetitive motion thickens the cartilage in your leg and hip joints. Yoga is another highly recommended activity. Whichever you choose, you should do it for at least thirty minutes three times a week.

These lifestyle changes are not difficult to incorporate into your daily routine but the rewards of living pain-free days make them well worthwhile.
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