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How To Prevent Arthritis

by Lily Morgen
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There are many reasons that can lead to arthritis. The most common is simply wear and tear on the joints from years of use. Other causes include injury, infection, and autoimmune disease.

Joints are protected by a layer of cartilage. This cartilage allows the joint to move smoothly by cushioning the bones. When this cartilage breaks down, it can no longer protect the bone and joint, leading to pain and inflammation.

There are many things you can do to prevent arthritis or at least slow its progression. You can eat a healthful diet, eat more fish, maintain a healthy weight, lose weight if you’re overweight, protect your joints and avoid injury, replace high-impact sports with low-impact activities, get regular exercise, don’t smoke, limit alcohol, control blood sugar levels, gentle stretching, get enough sleep and get routine preventive care.

1. Eat a Healthful Diet

Eating a diet that is full of anti-inflammatory foods can help reduce your risk of arthritis. Studies have shown that certain nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, can help to reduce pain and inflammation in the joints. Some of the best foods to eat include:

  • Fruits and vegetables, especially those that are darkly colored
  • Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish, nuts, and seeds
  • Whole grains
  • Lean protein

You should also avoid processed foods, sugary drinks, and red meat. These foods can increase inflammation in the body and make arthritis symptoms worse. You can also take supplements, but be sure to talk to your doctor first.

2. Eat More Fish

Fish is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to help reduce pain and inflammation in the joints. Aim for two servings of fish per week.

Some good options include salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines. If you don’t like fish, you can also take a fish oil supplement.

3. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best things you can do for your joints. The joints, especially the knees, hips, and back, are put under unnecessary strain by extra weight. This can lead to arthritis or make existing arthritis worse.

To maintain a healthy weight, eat a balanced diet and get regular exercise.

4. Lose Weight if You’re Overweight or Obese

Carrying extra weight puts added stress on the joints, which can worsen arthritis pain. Losing even a few pounds can help to reduce pain and inflammation in the joints.

5. Protect Your Joints and Avoid Injury

Injury to the joints is a common cause of arthritis. If you participate in activities that put a lot of stress on your joints, be sure to take steps to protect them. Wear joint supports or braces when necessary. And be sure to warm up and cool down properly before and after exercise.

If you do injure your joint, be sure to see a doctor. Early treatment can help to prevent long-term damage.

6. Replace High Impact Sports With Low Impact Activities

High-impact sports, such as running and basketball, can be hard on the joints. If you have arthritis or are at risk for developing arthritis, low-impact activities may be a better choice.

Some low-impact options include swimming, biking, and walking. These activities provide many of the same health benefits as high-impact sports, but without the risk of joint damage.

7. Get Regular Exercise

Exercise is important for overall health, but it’s also crucial for maintaining healthy joints. When you exercise, you strengthen the muscles around the joints, which can help to protect them from damage. Exercise can also help to reduce inflammation and pain.

Aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week. If you have arthritis, be sure to choose exercises that are low-impact and easy on the joints.

The best exercises for preventing arthritis are those that put a low impact on the joints, such as swimming, biking, and walking.

8. Don’t Smoke

Smoking is terrible for your health in general, but it’s also been linked to an increased risk of arthritis. In fact, smokers are 50% more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than nonsmokers.

If you smoke, quitting is one of the best things you can do for your health. There are many resources available to help you quit, including counseling and medication.

9. Limit Alcohol

Alcohol raises the possibility of developing arthritis. If you choose to drink, drink less. This typically means that men shouldn’t have more than two drinks per day, while women shouldn’t have more than one.

10. Control Blood Sugar Levels

Controlling your blood sugar levels is crucial if you have diabetes. Arthritis can develop from damage to the cartilage in the joints caused by high blood sugar levels.

Eat healthily, work out frequently, and take medication as directed by your doctor if you want to control your blood sugar levels.

11. Gentle Stretching

Stretching can help to improve flexibility and range of motion, which can be helpful for people with arthritis. To get the most benefit, stretch slowly and gently.

Be sure to warm up before stretching, and stop if you feel pain. If you’re not sure how to stretch properly, talk to a physical therapist or your doctor.

12. Get Enough Sleep

Getting enough sleep is important for overall health, but it’s also crucial for maintaining healthy joints. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body produces more inflammation-causing chemicals. These chemicals can increase pain and inflammation in the joints.

Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep each night. If you have trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor about ways to improve your sleep habits.

13. Get Routine Preventive Care

Routine preventive care, such as vaccinations and screenings, can help to prevent arthritis or catch it early.

Some vaccines, such as the flu shot, can help to reduce the risk of arthritis. Other vaccines, such as the pneumonia vaccine, can help to prevent complications from arthritis.

Screenings can help to detect arthritis early when it’s most treatable. Be sure to talk to your doctor about which screenings are right for you.

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