Preventing Osteoarthritis: What You Can Do

Runner Injury

(DGIwire) — Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease. It was once considered a problem of older folks, but it is now becoming more common in middle-aged and even young adults as a result of obesity and sports-related injuries. Traditionally, doctors advised people with osteoarthritis to take it easy to protect their joints. However, studies now find that weight loss combined with exercise—specifically to improve joint mobility and muscles surrounding the joint—can significantly improve a person’s health and quality of life better than medication alone.

The most dangerous exercise one can do for arthritis is none. Each pound of excess body fat adds the equivalent of four pounds of stress to the knees. Studies also show that women, who are at higher risk than men, can cut their risk of knee osteoarthritis in half with even small reductions in body weight.

Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage in the spaces between our joints wears away. This can happen in all body joints. It is estimated that the disease affects around 27 million Americans and results in almost 635,000 joint replacements per year. It is the most common cause of disability. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says obesity prevention, physical activity and self-management education are most promising for limiting osteoarthritis damage.

Obesity increases the risk for developing osteoarthritis. Experts agree that overweight people might reduce their chances for developing or aggravating their osteoarthritis by losing weight. Persons with low bone mineral density, such as in osteoporosis, might also be at increased risk for osteoarthritis.

The incidence of obesity, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis have all risen dramatically in the last 50 years. Ironically, the low-fat, high-carb craze along with the introduction of refined, processed and packaged foods also started about the same time. Why are obesity, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis now a problem even for adolescents? Could there be a connection?

“We believe there is a connection and it cannot be ignored until some scientific study proves it,” say boomer generation health experts Dian Griesel, Ph.D., and Tom Griesel, authors of the books TurboCharged: Accelerate Your Fat Burning Metabolism, Get Lean Fast and Leave Diet and Exercise Rules in the Dust (April 2011, BSH) and The TurboCharged Mind (January 2012, BSH). “The explosion of man-made, refined and processed foods in our diets is causing all kinds of health problems with heart disease and diabetes at the top of the list.”

The Griesels say that by eliminating all sugar, refined and processed foods along with grains and consuming a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish, along with fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts, one can reduce the frequency of flare-ups within one’s joints that cause painful tenderness. Why? It’s because these are the very foods we evolved eating over tens of thousands of years.

Omega-3 foods limit the body’s production of inflammatory immune compounds called leukotrienes. Researchers have found that people who ate at least two servings of baked or broiled oily fish per week reduced their chances of suffering from arthritis almost in half. Oily fish include salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, anchovies, and albacore tuna.

“It’s time everyone started focusing on self-management and taking control of their own health as well as our children’s by eliminating all these poisons and consuming a truly natural diet based on fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and animal based proteins,” says Tom. “Only then will we be able to reverse this frightening trend of increased disease.”