8 Ways to Help Prevent Osteoarthritis
While genes do play a role, there are lifestyle choices you can make to help curb the onset of osteoarthritis.
Ways to Keep Osteoarthritis at Bay
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that affects approximately 27 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Cartilage that covers joints breaks down, causing bones to become exposed and resulting in bone-to-bone contact that results in severe pain. The joint degeneration also may cause the joint to be become misshapen, which leads to limited range of motion and more pain.
Although factors like age, gender, and heredity play a role in developing osteoarthritis, there are at least eight ways you may be able to stave off developing this painful disease.
Eat Some Onions and Garlic
A 2010 study out of King’s College London found that diallyl sulfides, the compounds known as alliums that are found in garlic, onions, and leeks, actually inhibited the enzymes that cause joints to degenerate. The study looked at more than 500 sets of female twins. Although the study was limited, those that ate the highest amount of these specific alliums were found to have the lowest incidence of osteoarthritis.
A high body mass index—especially one that indicates obesity—is associated with a greater incidence of osteoarthritis, particularly in the hips and knees. There is considerable extra strain on the joints and cartilage that occurs by carrying around excess weight. Shedding pounds will lessen painful symptoms.
Exercise keeps joints healthy and is a key part of both osteoarthritis prevention and symptom alleviation. Low impact options such as swimming, yoga, and walking are effective at getting your heart rate up without putting further strain on joints. Strength training is also important as it increases muscle and bone health.
Stand Up Straight
Do you slouch at your desk all day looking into a computer screen? You may be setting yourself up for osteoarthritis later on. Good posture alleviates stress on many important joints; so it’s important to maintain the two natural curves of your spine whether sitting or standing. The two natural curves are the concave curves between the base of your head and your shoulders, and the one from your upper back to the base of your spine.
Enjoy Non-Citrus Fruits
Fruits such as berries, apples, plums, and peaches contain antioxidants that may decrease inflammation. Those who eat these types of fruits frequently were found in a recent English study to have less development of osteoarthritis than those who didn’t. Berries especially are major nutritional powerhouses, plus they’re low in calories and high in fiber. Add some to your morning cereal or start your day with a berry-filled smoothie.
Curb Repetitive Motion
While it’s important to be active, people who do the same motions over and over—whether it’s at work or during their favorite sport—are at increased risk of developing osteoarthritis. Ballet dancers, professional athletes, and construction workers are at particular risk. This can also occur with activities such as golf and tennis, so make sure that you:
- regularly change up your routine
- vary your movements as much as you can
- always practice proper form
Try a Little Gingerness
Ginger has long been touted as a remedy for many things included morning sickness and nausea, migraines, and irritated skin. However, recent research from the University of Georgia found that it alleviated muscle pain for up to 24 hours after intense exercise and reduced joint inflammation.
To curb osteoarthritis naturally:
- Enjoy ginger tea.
- Shave some ginger into your favorite stir fry recipe.
- Try a ginger supplement.
- Use a hot ginger compress on sore joints.
Relax and Meditate
Stress in general is bad for your body. It can lead to lack of sleep and depression, boht of which take a toll on your body. Relaxation techniques such as meditation and yoga can help reduce levels of stress and in turn help your overall health.
Things to Remember
While factors like heredity and age may determine if you develop osteoarthritis, you can make daily choices in your diet and exercise routine that will make a big difference down the road. Remember: you don't have to do it all at once. Just add one healthy habit at a time.