The Arthritis and Obesity Link: What You Can do to Protect Your Joints

Most people are well aware that obesity is linked to diabetes and heart disease, but did you know that being obese can significantly raise the risk of getting certain types of arthritis? And, no matter what kind of arthritis you have, obesity worsens the condition.

One in five Americans have been diagnosed with arthritis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but the number of obese people with arthritis is more than one in three.

Being overweight or obese is a major risk factor for developing osteoarthritis, or OA, with numerous studies revealing a strong link between being overweight or obese and knee OA, reports the John Hopkins Arthritis Center. The organization also notes that being just ten pounds overweight increases the force on the knee by 30 to 60 pounds with each step. That’s a lot of pressure for your joints to deal with.

OA is the most common type of arthritis, characterized by the breakdown of cartilage, which is the strong but flexible connective tissue covering the ends of bones at the joints. The more weight that’s placed on a joint, the more stressed that joint becomes, and the more likely that it will wear down and suffer damage.

Every pound of excess weight increases the pressure put on the joints, making it easy to see how premature damage in weight-bearing joints can occur over time. That’s why those who are overweight are at a higher risk of developing arthritis. In addition to the extra weight, fat is an active tissue that creates and releases chemicals which promote inflammation, worsening arthritis symptoms.

One of the best things that you can do to help your joints today is resolve to lose weight. Every pound you lose can help reduce the pain of arthritis. Losing as little as 11 pounds may improve your joint health and cut your risk of osteoarthritis of the knee by 50 percent.

Renowned physician and alternative medicine proponent Dr. Mercola advises something that we frequently preach here at The Alternative Daily for nearly all health issues: a healthy lifestyle is your best defense against osteoarthritis.

He also points out that if you already have arthritis, exercise is absolutely essential. While some are under the impression that it will cause further damage, he says that there is no evidence to support this belief; rather, evidence points to physical activity having a positive impact on joint tissues.

At the same time, it’s important to avoid exercise that aggravates joint pain while following a program which includes a wide range of activities focusing on cardio, weight training, stretching and core work. If you’re in pain for longer than an hour after your workout, slow down or choose a different form of exercise, Dr. Mercola advises.

Low impact cardio exercises are a good choice for protecting joints. These include walking, bicycling or swimming.

There are certain foods that can also help keep your joints healthy. Following an anti-inflammatory diet helps to reduce inflammation, which can make a significant difference in preventing or reducing arthritis symptoms. This means avoiding processed foods as well as soda, which can deplete calcium, and focus on whole, organic foods, including plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.

arthritisFoods like dark leafy greens, almonds and yogurt are a good way to meet your body’s calcium needs, while fatty cold water fish like wild-caught salmon, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, is known to help keep joints healthy and reduce inflammation.

Some health experts recommend taking a glucosamine supplement to help boost joint health and counteract some of the effects of wear and tear on the joints.

Studies have shown mixed results, with some pointing to little or no benefits, although a recent study published in Health News and Evidence found that it may offer some protection.

As with just about any illness and disease, your best bet for battling arthritis is to achieve and/or maintain an optimal weight and live a healthy lifestyle. Don’t you think living without pain, or significantly less pain, is worth the effort?

-The Alternative Daily


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