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Nutrition

If you are suffering from osteoarthritis (OA), it is important that you manage and maintain a healthy lifestyle, including exercising regularly, losing weight eating a well-balanced diet, to reduce the symptoms that prevent you from going about your daily life.

Why you should lose weight

It’s not just about lightening the load on your joints when it comes to losing weight, as fat is known to produce hormones and chemicals that increase inflammation, which produces free radicals. These cell-damaging molecules attack the synovial membrane in a joint, reducing the cartilage in between the two bones.

Here are some tips on how to create a suitable diet plan:

  • Don’t eat empty carbs, e.g. sugar
  • Increase intake of ‘good’ fatty acids, e.g. Omega-3
  • Cut down on alcohol
  • Only eat small amounts of sugary foods
  • Don’t eat crisps or any related snacks
  • Don’t eat deep-fried food
  • Reduce intake of meat
  • Use fat-reduced dairy products
  • Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables
content provided by NHS Choices

Examples of good foods

It can be difficult to find the right balance of healthy foods, and typically to find foods which are both healthy and appealing.

When it comes to finding the right foods you should focus on the following areas:

  • Vitamins
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids
  • Spices
  • Antioxidants

Vitamins

Vitamin C and D are known to improve cartilage development and maintenance. Vitamin C strengthens cartilage and reduces the symptoms associated with OA, while vitamin D helps prevent cartilage from breaking down, therefore protecting the space between bones from causing irritation.

Types of food containing vitamin C:

  • Tropical and citrus fruits
  • Cantaloupe
  • Strawberries and raspberries
  • Kiwi
  • Cauliflower, broccoli and kale
  • Capsicum peppers
  • Tomatoes

Types of food rich in vitamin D:

  • Breakfast cereals
  • Seafood
  • Fortified milk
  • Yoghurt
  • Eggs
  • Orange juice
  • Tofu
Vitamin C and D are known to improve cartilage development and maintenance

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are a must in the diet of an OA sufferer as they work to decrease inflammation by suppressing chemicals that break down cartilage. The fatty acid (Eicosapentaenoic) is present in many kinds of fish, including salmon, herring, mackerel and sardines, as well as walnuts, flaxseed and linseed.

It is recommended to ingest 300 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid per day. This can be achieved by eating just one herring a week.

Due to the types of food containing Omega-3, it can be difficult to include these regularly in your diet, so you may have to take supplements instead.

Omega-3 fatty acids are a must in the diet of an OA sufferer

Spices

There are some spices that are known to have anti-inflammatory effects – ginger and turmeric are particularly potent.

Some spices that are known to have anti-inflammatory effects

Antioxidants

Beta-carotene and bioflavonoids, such as quercetin and anthocyanins, are powerful antioxidants that help to protect the body by destroying free radicals before they cause damage to cartilage in joints.

Sources of beta-carotene include carrots, kale, broccoli, sweet potato, tomatoes, asparagus, spinach and Brussels sprouts.

Bioflavonoids can be found in onions, leeks, kale, broccoli, green tea, blueberries and cherry tomatoes.

Staying Active

As recommended by international OA guidelines, there is a lot you can do to support your affected joints.

Physical activity will strengthen your muscle, stabilise your knee joint and keep your cartilage hydrated and not to mention keeping you fit, healthy and help you to lose weight.

These sports are recommended for sufferers of both knee and hip osteoarthritis:

  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Swimming
  • Water gymnastics
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Thai-Chi
  • Yoga

There are also special exercises for osteoarthritis sufferers that stabilise your knee and keep it flexible.

In order to protect your knee it is advisable to stay clear of the following sports due to the stress they place on the affected joints:

  • Squash
  • Basketball
  • Tennis
  • Downhill skiing

Useful Links

You may find the following links to medical research and studies useful:

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