Dietary and Lifestyle Management of Arthritis

Dietary and Lifestyle Management of Arthritis

September 27, 2021 1 By Marriam

If you feel pain and stiffness in your body or have trouble moving around you might have arthritis. Most kinds of arthritis cause pain and swelling in your joints. Joints are places where two bones meet such as your elbow or knee. Over time a swollen joint can become severely damaged. Some kinds of arthritis can also cause problems in your organs such as your eyes or skin. Timely management of arthritis is important to lead a normal pain-free life.

Types of arthritis

Different types of arthritis include:

Osteoarthritis

It is the most common type of arthritis. It’s often related to ageing or to an injury

Autoimmune arthritis:

It happens when your body’s immune system attacks healthy cells in your body by mistake.

Rheumatoid arthritis:

This is the most common form of arthritis. It is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system, which is supposed to protect our cells from invasions or infections, starts attacking healthy cells by mistake. And this results in inflammation, pain and stiffness, which are the major symptoms of arthritis.

Management of Arthritis

If you go online and you say how can I can cure rheumatoid arthritis? And you might find, you know, tons of information on do this with your diet or do that with your diet, and your rheumatoid arthritis will disappear or get better. But what they are telling out there are not scientifically well-proven studies or data. Having said that, let’s not ignore the fact that diet is a key part of our health, whether you have rheumatoid arthritis or whether you do not have rheumatoid arthritis. Diet plays a crucial role in our well-being. And a healthy well-balanced diet sure can reduce the symptoms and reduce the pain associated with arthritis.

Dietary Management of Arthritis

What does common sense say in terms of what a healthy diet is? And you hear about it, lots of fruits, vegetables and grains. Lots of vegetables with lots of colours. Fruits of different colours. And why is that important? Because they provide you with a whole range of nutrition from anti-oxidants to very important minerals and vitamins.

It is also important to stay away from processed foods and colas that have a lot of empty calories in them. And water is the best form of hydration. Also cooking your food in a way where you’re reducing your calories is very important.

Lifestyle Management of Arthritis

Calories and your weight can become important in rheumatoid arthritis because if you put on weight, it may be harder for you to move. If you have knees and hips and ankles where there may be stiffness and pain and swelling, then you add to that extra weight, and it just becomes that much more difficult to move.

Elimination diets

You might have heard from a friend or someone with arthritis that getting rid of gluten from the diet has reduced or treated their arthritis symptoms. Or in some cases, you might have heard that eliminating meat from the diet or eggs or dairy from the diet has worked well for someone.

If cutting down on wheat or dairy or eggs help, in that case, it’s important to remember that some people have food allergies and sensitivities. So when you cut down on those problematic foods you might notice a reduction in stiffness or swelling. So if that’s you and if you think there is a consistent pattern that you are recognizing as a patient, it’s important for you to sit down with your rheumatologist and have a discussion about it.

But, overall, it’s not recommended to go on elimination diets. You can be depriving yourself of the nutrients that would have helped otherwise. And this can get severe. So our focus should be a healthy diet where you’re eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, grains, and you’re staying away from caloric dense, fatty and processed foods.

Physical Activity

Another very important component of living healthy is making sure that you get enough exercise in your day. Exercise can also mean movement, so keep moving. And in patients with arthritis, this becomes especially important. It’s important because, when they exercise and when they stay physically active they’re actually making their joints stronger. They’re also making the muscles around their joints stronger. And they are making their joints go through a range of motion so that they are exercising their joints in an effective manner.

But it is important to listen to your body. If you’re in a flare where you have multiple swollen joints, I do not think that’s a good time for you to be on a treadmill or be in a gym. You should be listening to your body and our focus should be in getting rid of that flare. And once the flare has resolved and the pain has resolved, you can definitely step back into your exercise regimen. So, well now you know how exercise helps in the management of arthritis.

How Long Should I Exercise?

There are patients who say that I want to exercise, but when I start exercising, the next day I pay for it. Because I hurt so much, either my knees or my hips or my ankles hurt. In those instances what you probably need is small doses of exercises that you should gradually build upon. So don’t go out there the first day and walk for 20 minutes, if you’re not used to that. Maybe step out of your house and walk for five minutes or seven minutes. The first week, just walk for five minutes just maybe in your yard. The second week, maybe, say I can try 10 minutes and so gradually increase that. And you will see that your body will slowly feel stronger. And your joints will not be hurting after exercising.

You must be wondering that there are so many different forms of exercise, right? There’s cardio, and there’s weight training, and there’s stretching, what should I do if I have rheumatoid arthritis? And the answer to that would be all of the above, as long as, again, you’re doing it safely. And you’re not hurting yourself while exercising. Stretching is wonderful for patients with arthritis. It helps you preserve your range of motion, and the muscles keep the muscles around your joints limber.