Special to The Progress
Today, I want to talk about Osteoarthritis and nutrition. Perhaps you had a chance to read the last article about how joint mobility can improve arthritis symptoms – that is only a small piece of the puzzle.
When making lifestyle changes most people think about going to the gym, or running to get into shape, but nothing complements exercise better than proper nutrition. After all, nutrition and exercise are hands down the most important components of creating a healthier lifestyle and managing arthritis. Specifically, nutrition can help to decrease body weight, decrease overall low-level chronic inflammation in the body, and encourage chondro-protection – which helps preserve existing cartilage and encourage repair of damaged cartilage.
If that weren’t enough, a proper, well-balanced diet can help reduce risk of all-cause mortality, heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. So, suffice to say, nutrition is one of the largest components of a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, this is the most difficult area of lifestyle change for most people to correct given the abundance of contradicting information and seemingly endless “quick fixes” that are offered. Below are some great starting points for eating to manage Osteoarthritis symptoms.
• Eat whole, real foods – Eating whole, real foods will ensure you get all of the vitamins and nutrients along with it! It also helps keep you fuller longer and promotes a healthy gut biome. It will also help prevent inflammation through decreasing intake of hydrogenated fats, preservatives, and other additives.
• Eat regular meals (3 meals, 1 snack for most people) – Ensuring you eat regularly will help keep a more stable blood sugar, which will help keep unhealthy cravings at bay.
• When you’re eating, eat – It is so easy when we are busy to just inattentively swallow foods while driving, or watching TV. Allowing your body to be in a “rest and digest” state makes your body more ready to uptake nutrients and fully digest foods.
• Focus on food composition before calories – Consider hormones, satiety, and macronutrients, not just calories in vs. calories out! When structuring your meals begin by selecting a protein or fat (e.g. eggs, chicken, avocado, fish, etc.) and preparing a side of non-starchy vegetables second. By selecting a focus of your meal that is high in nutrients and fats and proteins it will keep you fuller longer and better satisfied.
• Stay hydrated – Hydration is so important to proper health function, proper uptake of nutrients within the intestinal tract, and can actually aid in the repair of cartilage by providing a healthy medium for cofactors.
• Take a 12 hour break from food each day (including sleep) – Having a regular “fasting” time gives your body time to repair, and reset without needing to digest simultaneously.
• Essential fatty acids – These fats are often absent from today’s processed foods. However, they are also vital to health in that they are necessary for the body to produce enzymes, antibodies, and hormones which play a role in every bodily function. They are also extremely important in reducing swelling and pain associated with arthritis. Essential fatty acids can be found in fish, and flax, pumpkin, and sesame seeds.
• Antioxidants – As if there weren’t enough reasons to eat veggies, they are abundant in antioxidants. Antioxidants play a role in reducing free-radicals within the body that may be associated with arterial plaque, dementia, and cancer development.
• Supplements – while the best option is to receive as many nutrients from natural foods as possible, some supplements do show some evidence of helping arthritis symptoms. Specifically, fish oils, glucosamine, vitamin C, and manganese can all play roles in managing inflammation and promoting cartilage repair. However, always consult your physician before taking supplements.
Where do I start?
Lifestyle management is a journey! Start by identifying two or three small, realistic changes that you can make to your diet daily and go from there. The most important part is that you can stick to your changes for life and be happy doing so. Whatever it is, chances are any changes will still be a step in the right direction. Aim for progress, not perfection. Enjoy the chance to learn more about fueling your body, and pay attention to how much better you feel along the way!
For anyone looking struggling with arthritis and looking to make a more serious lifestyle change, Ascend Fitness will be running its ArthroFit program again this October 25th after receiving great success with the first one. Phone 604-858-9947 for more details, or visit: ascendfitnesscoaching.com/arthrofit
Daniel Cryderman is a Registered Kinesiologist and fitness coach at Ascend Fitness Inc. The team of expert fitness coaches at Ascend Fitness inspire and educate Chilliwack residents to make positive and power changes in their lives through physical fitness and sound nutrition. Visit Ascend Fitness Inc. at www.ascendfitnesscoaching.com.