Shedding weight is a real challenge for most people. Extra pounds can impact how you feel and manage your daily chores. They also increase the risk of arthritis.
Studies have shown that overweight women are four times more likely to suffer from osteoarthritis than normal women. Losing weight significantly reduces the risk.
Simply, arthritis is an inflammation of one or more joints characterised by pain and stiffness. There are many forms, but osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the most common.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disorder, caused by antibodies that attack healthy joints, causing inflammation and pain. Being overweight seldom causes rheumatoid arthritis, but the role of obesity in osteoathritis cannot be negated. It can show up on weight-bearing joints like the knees, hip, ankles, neck and spine.
Extra weight puts pressure on these joints and wears away the protective cartilage (tissue that cushions the joints). Weight loss can decrease stress on the knees, hips, and lower back. Some symptoms indicative of osteoarthritis are early morning stiffness, swelling, tenderness in the joints, fever and weakness.
Increasing age, a genetic history of joint diseases or injury to the joints increase your chances of getting osteoarthritis. But the most common cause of osteoarthritis is being overweight. Excess fat leads to excessive inflammation, which, in turn, causes arthritis. Reducing weight would reduce inflammatory reactions in the body thus reducing arthritic pain. Cold weather and humidity tends to aggravate it. Follow these diet guidelines to feel better:
Avoid foods that increase inflammation, like red meat, fried foods, biscuits, farsaan.
Omega 3 supplements reduce pain and stiffness.
Avoid PUFA oil (made from safflower seeds, sunflower seeds, corn oil) and switch to MUFA oil, rice bran oil, til and mustard oil, olive oil, rapeseed oil.
Avoid taking iron supplements as they are associated with increased pain.
Dr Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre
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