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If you are suffering from OA, it is important that you manage and maintain a healthy lifestyle. This can be achieved by exercising regularly, losing weight and eating a well-balanced diet and will help to reduce the symptoms that prevent yo from going about your daily life.
Why should you 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
Your Body Mass Index (BMI) can be a quick and easy way to determine whether or not you are a healthy weight. The BMI is calculated using your age, height, weight and activity levels and should sit between 18.5 and 24.9 to be considered in the healthy weight range according to the NHS guidelines. While the BMI only takes in to account a small number of variables, it is a good indicator for you to understand more about your weight and if your health could benefit from losing some. You can calculate your BMI using the NHS tool below.
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:
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Vitamins 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
- Strawberries and raspberries
- Cauliflower, broccoli and kale
- Capsicum peppers
Types of food rich in vitamin D:
- Breakfast cereals
- Fortified milk
- Orange juice
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.
There are some spices that are known to have anti-inflammatory effects – ginger and turmeric are particularly potent.
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.
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:
- Water gymnastics
- Cross-country skiing
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:
- Downhill skiing
You may find the following links to medical research and studies useful:
- Lopez HL.Nutritional interventions to prevent and treat osteoarthritis. Part I: focus on fatty acids and macronutrients. PM R. 4(5 Suppl):S145-54, 2012
- Goggs R, Vaughan-Thomas A, Clegg PD, Carter SD, Innes JF, Mobasheri A, Shakibaei, M, Schwab W, Bondy CA.: Nutraceutical therapies for degenerative joint diseases: a critical review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2005;45(3):145-64.
- Hailu A, Knutsen SF, Fraser GE.: Associations between meat consumption and the prevalence of degenerative arthritis and soft tissue disorders in the adventist health study, California U.S.A. J Nutr Health Aging. 10(1):7-14; 2006
- Peregoy J, Wilder FV.: The effects of vitamin C supplementation on incident and progressive knee osteoarthritis: a longitudinal study. Public Health Nutr. 14(4):709-15, 2011
- Sanghi D, Mishra A, Sharma AC, Singh A, Natu SM, Agarwal S, Srivastava RN.: Does vitamin D improve osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized controlled pilot trial. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 471(11):3556-62, 2013
- Neogi T, Booth SL, Zhang YQ, Jacques PF, Terkeltaub R, Aliabadi P, Felson DT.: Low vitamin K status is associated with osteoarthritis in the hand and knee. Arthritis Rheum. 54(4):1255-61, 2006
- Skiles, J. W., Gonnella, N. C., Jeng, A. Y.: The design, structure, and clinical update of small molecular weight matrix metalloproteinase inhibitors. Curr Med Chem. 11(22):2911 – 77, 2004
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