DIET AND LIFESTYLE CHANGES
by MANJIT SALUJA
When afflicted with Musculoskeletal illness, major focus should not become mainly on managing pain but also to improve the quality of life. Arthritis is a painful disease, which causes joints and back pain.
This disease can primarily be treated with medication; there are certain lifestyle changes that you can make which will make your life easier.
One thing that will help any arthritis patient or patient with other disease is to maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight leads to more strain in the joints, leads to high cholesterol, may cause Diabetes, Hypertension, Cardiovascular diseases. Obesity and extra weight can cause low back pain. Maintaining a healthy weight should be the Mantra for healthy life.
Exercise Regularly and be ACTIVE: Consult your treating doctor before you start any exercises. You may also visit a physiotherapist. A physiotherapist will help and guide for your neck and back pain. Exercise will help patients with stiffness and mobility problems. The timing and intensity of the exercises in the beginning should be less and mild, which can gradually be increased. Research has demonstrated that physical activity may reduce pain associated with Arthritis.
Eat a Balance Diet:
Fruits and vegetables: Colorful fruits and vegetables contain high amount of antioxidants, Antioxidants protect tissues against damage, may reduce inflammation. Along with fruits and vegetables nuts, fish are also good sources of antioxidants. Research finds that people who regularly eat fish high in omega-3s are less likely to develop any form of arthritis.And in those who already have the disease, omega-3s may help reduce joint swelling and pain.
Whole grains: Whole grains are healthier with more fiber than the white processed grains, whole wheat, corn, Bajra, Jawar, Ragi, Oats are the healthy food grains readily available in India.
Drink plenty of fluids: Drinking plenty of fluids is important for nutrition and health. Water helps to maximize physical performance, and may also aid in weight loss. Water energizes muscles. Hydration is vital for flushing toxins out of your body, which can help fight inflammation. Adequate water can help keep your joints well lubricated.. Helps maintain normal bowel function.Spinal structures can be negatively impacted by obesity. Avoid Alcohol, as it can contribute to weaker bones. While on certain medication such as Methotrexate or Leflunomide excess alcohol may cause liver abnormalities
Diet supplements: Person with any form of arthritis should supplement their diet with calcium and vitamin D. Calcium is essential for bone health. Sufficient calcium intake prevents osteoporosis, which causes brittle bones. Calcium is found in dairy products such as yogurt, milk, dark vegetables. Vitamin D aids in absorption of calcium. Vitamin D can be obtained through supplement or exposure to sunlight.
Look after your posture: Good posture helps reduce back and neck pain. Becoming aware of posture and ergonomics at home and work is a important step for a achieving a good posture. (Some exercises also help in promoting a good posture. Invest in chairs and mattresses that are ergonomically designed which will promote a good posture, reduce spinal pressure and minimize back pain.
Correct footwear: Correct footwear should also be considered as a factor that can help in minimizing pain. Wrong footwear worn by patients can aggravate existing pain and swelling. Right footwear may significantly reduce hip, knees, ankles and feet pain.
Quit Tobacco/Smoking: Smoking and chewing tobacco is a major risk factor for developing arthritis. Tobacco may also interfere with the effectiveness of drugs. Over time smoking may actually worsen your pain. Our COPCORD studies in India (Bhigwan and Ralegaon Siddhi) demonstrated that oral tobacco was a significant risk factor for musculoskeletal pain, It was noticed that tobacco helped in intense labour, reducing fatigue, easy bowel movements and making teeth healthy.
Manage your stress: Stress hits us all in Life. The pain, stiffness, fatigue and side effects can be stressful. Stress itself can worsen AS symptoms. As you live with your diseases, it is you who has to find ways to address and reduce stress in your life. By taking daily steps to deal with what you're facing, you can limit the effects of stress on your health.
Besides these we need to make certain adjustments to our daily activities to make life easier, like using a chair commode, taking adequate sleep of 7-8 hours at night, but the afternoon siesta should not exceed 45 minutes. One must avoid stressing and try and keep a calm mind.
Seek support or join a support group like Mission Arthritis India (MAI): Lack of mobility that arthritis causes can be challenging and frustrating too. Talking with family, friends and even other patients in the support group will help to eliminate the negative emotions.