It might surprise you to learn that more than 54 million people in the United States have arthritis. When it goes untreated, arthritis can have a significant impact on daily life. It can prevent the ability to work, move around easily, and experience basic comfort.
So what are the best ways to reduce and prevent joint inflammation? And how do exercise and nutrition combine to help treat arthritis?
What is Inflammation?
Before you even approach tackling inflammation, it is important to actually understand what it is and why it happens.
Simply put, inflammation is a bodily response to various stimuli, such as injury or infection. If you have a cut, sprain an ankle, or tear a muscle, your body’s healing response includes some inflammation.
Short term inflammation due to some sort of tissue trauma or stress is known as acute inflammation. Usually, this type of inflammation is OK. After all, it is temporary while your body works to heal itself. This isn’t the type of inflammation we are too concerned with.
However, if it stays much longer than normal, or just doesn’t go away, it is most likely chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation can last for months or years on end unchecked, and can be a major source of negative quality of life.
Chronic inflammation happens when your body cannot properly heal itself or remove foreign material. Symptoms usually manifest in various ways, such as fatigue, aches, fever, rashes, and mood issues. In the long term, chronic inflammation can also spike your chances or various disease, such as cancer and diabetes.
Arthritis is a very common form of chronic joint inflammation, that can severely inhibit range of motion and joint strength. Under the umbrella of arthritis, are Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a fantastic example of chronic inflammation, because your body attacks itself, causing swelling throughout the affected joints. Swollen, stiff, painful, and weak joints aren’t necessarily good for quality of life.
Osteoarthritis, like Rheumatoid arthritis, can lead to chronic inflammation. The difference between the two is that in RA, the body attacks itself and causes inflammation, while in Osteoarthritis the cartilage breaks down, causing the bones to rub together and inflammation to happen.
In order to determine chronic inflammation, your physician will probably order a blood test. They can run the sample for markers of chronic inflammation, such as high levels of white blood cells floating around.
Determining you have chronic inflammation and figuring out the cause are two separate things. It isn’t always easy to identify the reason for inflammation. Risk factors include:
How can we reduce Inflammation?
If you have chronic inflammation, there are a few things you can do that might help reduce how badly your joints are inflamed. Granted, these suggestions won’t always work, but are worth a try for most people. As always, check with a doctor before modifying your diet or starting an exercise routine.
Avoid Refined Sugar
One of our most important tips for reducing joint pain is to avoid refined sugar. High-sugar drinks and foods have a strong association with joint inflammation.
Refined sugar releases cytokines which worsen inflammatory conditions. Try swapping out sugary sodas for low-sugar alternatives, and replace desserts with fresh fruit. Why not opt for natural sources of sweetness like honey and coconut?
If you can’t live without refined sweeteners in your tea and coffee, pick a sugar substitute.
They say that you don’t stop moving when you get old, you get old when you stop moving. An important piece of advice for managing chronic joint pain is to stay active. People with arthritis suffer more from joint pain when they are overweight. For this reason, it’s important to stay active as a way to help maintain a healthy weight.
When exercising, you’ll need to be careful to engage in activities that reduce inflammation rather than put pressure on your joints. Incorporating stretching, pilates, and cycling into your routine is a great place to start.
Don’t know where to start? Check out our training plans here.
Next, chronic joint inflammation can be alleviated by introducing several spices into your cooking. Garlic, turmeric, and ginger are all well known for their anti-inflammatory properties.
Spice-lovers should also add cayenne to their food as this flavor will pack a punch while also containing capsaicin, a natural pain reliever. Tasty Indian curry dishes are your friends when it comes to anti-inflammatory cooking!
By choosing tasty, organic meals over highly-processed junk foods, you’ll do both, relieve your symptoms and improve your mood.
Our final tip for reducing arthritis pain is to change your diet. The Mediterranean diet, for example, is a healthy option because of the plentiful vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and healthy fats included.
Some menu examples might include salmon, olive oil, whole grain pasta, and sweet potatoes. Mediterranean diets have the added benefits of lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and strokes.
There’s no reason why following a healthier diet means you need to cut out the foods you enjoy. Simply adapt the flavors and meals you love and try to minimize the levels of refined sugar and processed carbohydrates.
Minor life changes can make a world of difference
Thanks to some careful dietary choices and regular exercise, joint inflammation can be kept under control. With chronic illnesses such as arthritis, it’s essential to not let the pain take over the joys of everyday life.
Let us help you out.
Inflammation is a real thing that affects a lot of people. While diet and exercise cannot alleviate inflammation 100%, it can greatly help out the majority of people. If you have a desire to get moving, and your doctor has cleared you to do so, hit us up. We’re here to help, offering a variety of customized workout plans to suit your goals.
Personal trainers, like those found here, can help guide you on your pathway towards reaching your fitness goals, whether that is getting bigger, stronger, faster, more lean, or just generally feeling better.
We can get you setup with a periodized workout plan, supplement information, and advice on nutrition to help you reach your goals.
The only thing you need is some motivation and a willingness to change some old habits.
Get into contact with us to find out what membership is right for you. In a CONDITIONerd program, you’ll be surrounded by others who can help you to get where you want to be.
Generally, our clients start to see some pretty awesome changes in 2-3 months time, some sooner.