Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent type of arthritis, a condition that tends to affect you as you get older.
It occurs due to progressive deterioration of the cartilage and structural changes in the joints. These changes make it more difficult to function, along with causing discomfort and pain.
Over the years physicians have often suggested osteoarthritis was simply a “wear-n-tear” issue. Now we understand it’s a disease of low-grade inflammation throughout the body’s cells — a term that scientists call “inflamm-aging” and define as “the state of systemic, low-grade inflammation that increases with age, independent of attack by infectious pathogens”
When this low-grade inflammation is present, a whole range of complex reactions occurs at the cellular and molecular level characteristic of premature aging.
Two major factors driving this inflammation are conditions of altered metabolism, namely obesity and metabolic syndrome — a cluster of symptoms that includes high blood glucose, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, large waist circumference, and insulin resistance/diabetes.
And researchers have recently discovered that your metabolism is much more involved in the development of osteoarthritis than once thought…
Metabolically active fat
When you’re overweight and carry excess belly fat, the fat doesn’t just sit there lying dormant. Belly fat, also called visceral fat or white adipose fat, is metabolically active fat that produces a wide range of hormones and proinflammatory molecules that drive up inflammation in your body and further disrupt your metabolism.
These changes in metabolism lead to the degradation of cartilage and the cellular activity that destroys your joints — there is literally an “eating away” of your body and your cells are switched to a state where they lack the flexibility and energy to repair and regenerate.
The good news here is that you can largely reverse your metabolism by focusing on the following three strategies:
Decrease your body-wide inflammation. Studies clearly show a strong connection between the foods you choose to eat and the amount of inflammation produced in your body. Think of it like this: your body is a natural organic entity so when you eat natural whole food sources it responds in its natural biological way.
On the other hand, when your diet is filled with processed and packaged foods that contain many artificial ingredients, additives and preservatives, and too much sugar, your body responds to those foods as an inflammatory stimulus. It does not recognize the foods and treats them as invaders, initiating your immune system to defend against them. If this goes on day after day, inflammation keeps building, increasing, worsening and driving your state of ill health (and your arthritis!).
By improving your diet and getting back to the way nature intended you to eat — natural whole food sources — you can prevent and even reverse many health conditions, including osteoarthritis.
The key is to quit the bad unnatural food stuffs and focus on consuming fresh vegetables and fruit, fish, chicken, lean meats, beans, legumes, dairy, and healthy fat sources like olive oil, avocado and nuts.
Engage in physical activity. Your body was made to move and when it does it releases anti-inflammatory molecules that keep your body in balance. Physical activity also improves cellular activity and promotes optimal metabolism of nutrients so that your cells perform at their best. To make a difference, you only need an average of 30 minutes a day of moderate activity.
Lose weight. For reasons already pointed out above, carrying excess weight will increase your chances of acquiring osteoarthritis and make your condition worse if you already have it. Therefore, aiming to achieve your ideal BMI is a good goal to work towards. Two great supportive agents to assist in this pursuit happen to be changing your diet and engaging in regular activity.
As for other prevention and treatment strategies for arthritis, my colleagues are here to help:
Dr. Mark Wiley shares the benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Dr. Isaac Eliaz covers several natural solutions for prevention and treatment.
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