How to Prevent Arthritis 10 Different Ways

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    Keep an Eye on the Scale

    Stepping on the scale isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time, but checking in even every few weeks will help your health in years to come. That’s because maintaining an ideal body weight is one of the most important lifestyle factors in preventing arthritis later. “Carrying extra body weight places unnecessary stress on the bones and joints, ” says Seth Jeremy Marquit, MD, ABEM, medical director at Pritikin Longevity Center + Spa.

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    Be Wary of Constant Injuries

    A major cause of inflammatory arthritis, according to Marquit? Repetitive use injury—think of a pitcher who hurts his arm twice every season. If you have the same nagging problem over and over, you may want to see a physical therapist, or talk to an expert about your form.

    While a sore ankle doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doomed to arthritis later in life, there are some warning signs to watch for if you find that you injure the same joint over and over. Look out for constant pain, or a pain that comes and goes often with repeated swelling, lasting a few days several times over the course of a month. Stiffness, especially in the morning, and difficulty moving the joint once it’s healed are also red flags saying it’s time to talk to a doctor. “Don’t ignore your symptoms or just take a painkiller or anti-inflammatory … it may provide adequate immediate relief but may compromise and/or delay your joint repair and recovery,” says Marquit.

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    Remember to Recover

    No matter your fitness level or whether or not you’ve been injured, it’s important to take a few days off from exercising each week, especially if you’ve had a particularly grueling gym session or finished a milestone race like a half-marathon. Marquit says that as a general rule for any activity, you should be sure to increase timing, intensity, and frequency gradually.

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    Don’t Skimp on Stretching

    Aerobic activities and cardio are important to help maintain a healthy weight, but don’t forget to stretch before and after to help maintain flexibility and range of motion, says Marci Clow, MS, RDN at Rainbow Light. Stretching combined with a little sweat will help protect your joints from wear and tear.

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    Start Your Morning with a Smoothie

    Blend up a frothy, fruit-packed smoothie for a morning sip that boosts bone health. According to Clow, berries and cherries are rich sources of anthocyanins, a group of flavonoids that possess anti-inflammatory properties while pineapple contains the enzyme bromelain, which has anti-inflammatory actions as well. Pineapples get extra credit for all that vitamins C, too. Clow says that higher intake of vitamin C has been associated with a reduced risk of cartilage loss and disease progression in individuals with osteoarthritis of the knee.

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    Fill Up on (Good) Fats

    One more reason to make avocado toast: Clow says it’s a great source of monounsaturated fats, phytosterols, and a variety of carotenoids that may help reduce the inflammation that leads to arthritis. Other fats that are your friend? Olive oil is associated with reduced risk of rheumatoid arthritis and may help prevent the onset of osteoarthritis. And omega-3 fatty acids found in fish like salmon also help tame inflammation.

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    Make a Mediterranean Meal

    “You should strive for an array of colorful fruits and vegetables, which are loaded with a wide variety of antioxidants that help reduce blood markers of inflammation,” says Clow. Instead of restricting yourself to certain foods, Clow recommends trying the Mediterranean diet. “The beauty of the Mediterranean diet is that it doesn’t eliminate any one food but focuses on traditional regional foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, seafood, olive oil, and nuts, all of which are readily available here in the U.S.”

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    Skip the Sugar

    It’s in everything from condiments to salad dressings, but Clow suggests back where you can, as high blood sugar may also stimulate the production of inflammatory substances that can damage joints.

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    Watch Your AGE

    AGE doesn’t mean the number of candles you’re blowing out on your birthday cake. “Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are toxins that occur when foods are grilled or fried at high temperatures,” says Clow, “and they can damage the body’s inflammatory messaging system and result in inflammation.” Avoid burning your burger, even you’re a fan of well-done meat.

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    Use Common Sense

    Some types of arthritis, aside from inflammatory, are by-products of an underlying autoimmune disease, says Marquit, and treating the disease often alleviates the arthritic symptoms that come with it. “Certain infectious conditions such as Lyme disease, or complications resulting from certain STDs such as gonorrhea—although not extremely common—can cause arthritis. Prevention is key in these examples: Avoid walking in the woods or tall grass in tick-prevalent areas, and make sure to practice safe sex.”


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