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Can a Healthy Diet Slow Osteoarthritis Down?

Nearly 60 million Americans have arthritis, with joint pain and stiffness that can eventually lead to disability. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, and it’s also a common cause of knee pain and hip pain among older adults and very active younger people.

Fortunately, there are lots of medical treatments that can help, but what you might not know is that lifestyle habits have an effect on arthritis and its symptoms. In fact, watching your diet could help reduce arthritis pain and even slow down progression of underlying joint damage.

Our team at Pacific Sports and Spine helps patients at our Eugene and Roseburg, Oregon, offices play a proactive role in their arthritis treatment, with lifestyle guidance tailored to their symptoms. 

Here’s what we want you to know about your diet and its potential impact on arthritis symptoms.

Quick facts about osteoarthritis

Sometimes called degenerative arthritis, osteoarthritis is the result of years of wear-and-tear on the layer of cartilage that protects joint surfaces. Over time, repetitive use and repeated strain and pressure on joints wears down and erodes the cartilage.

Cartilage erosion increases friction inside the joint, which in turn leads to inflammation. That inflammatory response can actually increase damage inside the joint, leading to joint pain, stiffness, and swelling. 

Arthritis tends to be more common in your weight-bearing joints, like your knees or hips, as well as joints that move a lot, like the joints in your hands and wrists. Many people develop arthritis in the spine joints as they get older.

The impact of your diet

You might not think that the foods you eat would have an effect on your joints and your joint health, but they absolutely do.

Food and inflammation

One way to improve your diet if you have arthritis is to focus on foods with anti-inflammatory benefits. That includes foods rich in vitamins A, B6, C, and E, and plant extracts called phytonutrients, each of which work against oxidative damage associated with inflammation.

To make sure you’re getting plenty of antioxidant goodness, fill up on colorful fruits and vegetables, a strategy sometimes referred to as “eating the rainbow.” Pair with whole grains to help manage your weight, along with phytonutrient-rich beans.

Healthy oils, including oily fish and olive oils, may help reduce inflammation in your joints and throughout your body. Just be aware of the calories they contain so you don’t pack on pounds. Avoid saturated and trans fats, which could make inflammation worse.

The importance of weight management

When osteoarthritis affects your knees, hips, spine, feet, or ankles, losing excess weight can be an effective way to reduce pain and slow the progression of joint damage. That’s because dropping those extra pounds reduces strain on your joints, especially during walking and other activities.

If your joints are already sore, exercising can be a challenge. Our team can suggest low-impact activities, or you can look into gentle yoga or swimming for calorie-burning without the joint strain. 

Physical therapy can also help you increase your activity by tailoring those activities to your symptoms.

Make joint health a priority

Your joints take a beating during your lifetime, so give them the care and attention they need to prevent damage. A healthy diet focused on good nutrition and weight management can help. 

To learn how we can help you keep osteoarthritis symptoms under control, book an appointment by calling us at Pacific Sports and Spine today. We’re located in Eugene and Roseburg, Oregon.

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