If you feel pain and inflammation in your joints, you may be one of six million Canadians (that’s one in five) suffering from arthritis. There are over 100 different types of arthritis. Risk factors of developing arthritis include genetics, age, sex, obesity or previous injuries. The good news is that there are proactive steps you can take to reduce this risk before it begins. Read on to discover five effective ways to reduce your risk of arthritis before it’s too late.
Stretch & Exercise to Maintain a Healthy Weight
Regular exercise and maintaining control over your weight are important steps toward reducing your risk of arthritis. This is because the extra weight you may be carrying around can put extra pressure on your hips, knees and joints. Each pound of weight you gain puts an additional four pounds of strain on your knees and six times the pressure on your hip joints. The added pressure on your joints causes the breakdown of cartilage.
Also important to note is that when you gain weight, the production of a protein called cytokine also increases. Cytokines are known for speeding up the breakdown of precious cartilage. These problematic proteins are linked to the inflammation seen in rheumatoid arthritis, causing organ and joint damage.
Daily low-impact exercises, such as swimming, cycling or walking, can help reduce your risk of arthritis. You should aim for at least 30 minutes of activity at least five times per week. This exercise will help strengthen the muscles attached to your joints, which act as support for your hips & knees. Gentle stretching is also a beneficial way to reduce your risk of arthritis. Stretching keeps you limber and increases your range of motion.
Speaking of exercise, you should be careful not to overdo it. When you injure a joint, that joint is immediately at a higher risk of developing arthritis compared to a healthy joint. Take care when exercising or playing sports by protecting yourself with the right safety equipment. Overuse of joints can also create “wear and tear” process that contribute to the most common form of arthritis called osteoarthritis.
It’s common knowledge that smoking is bad for your health. But did you realize that smoking can increase your risk of rheumatoid arthritis? This is because smoking causes problems with breathing and your blood circulation, which can limit your ability to exercise and to have blood pumping through your joints properly, and therefore increases your risk of developing arthritis. Exercise helps maintain flexibility in your joints and strengthen the muscles that support your joints.
Tobacco smoke also causes your body to produce higher quantity of highly-damaging cytokines which, as mentioned before, can cause organ and joint damage.
Introduce Fish Into Your Diet
If you don’t eat fish (at least twice weekly), it’s a great way to introduce omega-3 fatty acids into your diet. According to Arthritis Society Canada, one of the many benefits of omega-3s is that they are You can find omega-3s in fatty fish such as anchovies, salmon, bluefin tuna, striped bass, whitefish, mackerel, black cod and herring.
Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids may also lower blood pressure and even slow down the buildup of plaque in your arteries, leading to a lower chance of heart attack or stroke.
Keep Your Blood Sugar In-Check
High blood sugar can lead to diabetes, which causes inflammation and joint pain in multiple ways. Inflammation from diabetes leads to the deterioration of irreplaceable cartilage. If your diabetes is uncontrolled, it can seriously affect your skeleton & muscles leading to nerve damage, joint pain and arthritis. High blood sugar can also stiffen cartilage and make your joints more sensitive to stress & strain.
If you experience joint pain and inflammation, check out this arthritis risk factor assessment tool on the Arthritis Society Canada website to discover what type of arthritis you may be at risk of developing. As always, you should book an appointment with your doctor to discuss any health concerns you may have. Ask your doctor about anti-inflammatory supplements that may help your joint pain & inflammation.