Though we tend not to want to think about old age, it’s worth giving a thought now to arthritis and how to prevent it, as the crippling condition affects nearly 10 million people in the UK according to the charity Arthritis Care (arthritiscare.org.uk ). There are two main types: osteoarthritis, which is the most common and occurs when cartilage between the joints wears away causing bones to rub together, and rheumatoid arthritis, which tends to be more severe but less common, and happens when the body’s immune system attacks joints, causing swelling and pain.
The first type usually affects those aged over 50, although people can suffer at any age. General symptoms can include pain and swelling usually around the hands, knees, spine or hips, and difficulty moving those areas and a degree of weakness where the muscle has diminished. And, contrary to popular belief, it’s not caused by over-exercise but there are lifestyle changes you can make, such as eating certain foods
Eat for agility For best results go for an anti-inflammatory diet and avoid foods high in saturated fat. Sugary foods and refined carbs will also increase inflammation in your body, so it’s best to try and cut down or eliminate them completely.
Eating foods rich in omega threes can drastically reduce symptoms. Opt for oily ones, such as mackerel, sardines, herring and salmon. Walnuts and chia seeds are also a good source of essential fatty acids. Use extra virgin olive oil for salad dressings, as it contains oleocanthal, a natural compound that can reduce inflammation. Avoid cooking with it though, as this degrades its healthgiving properties. Instead, cook with coconut oil, high in healthy fats.
Also, choose foods rich in vitamin C and beta carotene as these can slow the progress of arthritis and help with the pain. Load up on vegetables like kale, broccoli, sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkins and peppers, and eat fruits like oranges, strawberries, grapefruit and guava.
Spices such as ginger and turmeric can also be beneficial for reducing internal inflammation, so add them to your meals wherever possible.
Also, try Terranova Glucosamine, Boswellia & MSM Complex, (£13, and stabilised rice bran. Suitable for both vegetarians and vegans.
terranovanutrition. com), which helps maintain healthy joints thanks to its antiinflammatory ingredients, including Boswellia resin, nettle, turmeric root, ginger rhizome and root, celery leaf
KEEP ON MOVING
The belief that runners are more prone to arthritis is a common misconception. Studies have proven regular running or walking keeps joints healthy. The reason for this is that exercise helps in the production of synovial fluid, which is packed with nutrients and works like an oil to lubricate joints. When you exercise regularly, your body flushes in synovial fluid, which keeps you supple. So, it pays to stay active and keep moving. Try these exercise suggestions to stay supple into your later years…
1. RUN FOR 30 MINS: Introduce three halfhour slots of running or brisk walking every week and gradually build this up to five times a week.
2. TAKE THE STAIRS: Spend five minutes twice a day running up and down stairs.
3. STRETCH REGULARLY: Every time you get up from a sitting position, stretch your spine, bend each knee and flex your hips.
4. WORKOUT IN WATER: Go swimming or sign up for a water aerobics class, to strengthen the muscles without putting extra pressure on the joints.
5. DO YOGA: This gentle exercise helps with balance and flexibility and will also put you in a positive frame of mind so you’re able to deal with any pain more effectively if you do already have arthritis.
6. TRY TAI CHI: This is another form of exercise that can be beneficial. Based on a Chinese martial art, the movements are slow and controlled and can help sufferers build up flexibility without putting pressure on joints. Check out taichifinder.co.uk for details of events and classes throughout the UK.