“Osteo” means bone, while “arthritis” is joint inflammation. Osteoarthritis is degeneration of the cartilage in the joints. Cartilage is a resilient and smooth elastic tissue between the bones that acts as a cushion or a “shock absorber”.
Osteoarthritis usually affects more men under 40, more women between 40 and 70, men, and both sexes above the age of 70. Although this joint disease usually affects elderly people, there are more and more young people who are suffering from osteoarthritis nowadays.
The human body is constantly going through a process of building up and breaking down. In order to maintain healthy joints, we need to build up the cartilage at the same rate that it’s wearing down.
When the cartilage is wearing out, it either means that the building-up rate is slower, or that the breakdown rate is faster.
Continue reading to find out what builds and what breaks.
Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis commonly affects only one or a few joints, mostly at the joints of fingers, big toe, lower back, and the knees. The most common symptoms are joint pain and stiffness, which subside when the joints are moved.
When these joints are stressed, the body tries to repair the cartilage, which leads to new growth of the cartilage and tissue around it. This causes enlargement at the joints or bone spurs forming as a result.
Osteoarthritis often affects the neck, spine or lower back. When bone overgrowth presses the nerves, it causes pain. Like in the other types of arthritis, osteoarthritis pain attacks when the affected parts are cold (mostly at night while we sleep, or in the morning, or during rainy days).
If you leave osteoarthritis untreated, the osteoarthritis may worsen and the joints may even lose their ability to straighten out or bend over time.
What Causes Osteoarthritis?
The cause for osteoarthritis is more complex than wear and tear. It is good to know that long-distance runners are not at a higher risk of developing this condition when compared to others. But, if you get affected by this joint disease, long-distance running will make the situation even worse.
Here are just some of the causes for Osteoarthritis:
- Deficiency in important nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin B3, which are needed to keep the cartilage health and make the joints run smoothly.
- Excessive production of free radicals, inflammatory cytokines, and caustic enzymes that cause inflammation and the degeneration of cartilage.
- Excess body weight is a major contributing factor to this condition because it significantly increases the burden on the joints.
- Aging – the cartilage-building abilities and restoring decreases as we age.
- Injury and overuse – Repetitive movements or injuries to joints, such as fracture, surgery or ligament tears, can lead to osteoarthritis. For instance, athletes who repeatedly damage joints, tendons, and ligaments are at much higher risk of cartilage breakdown. In additions, certain professions that require standing for long periods, heavy lifting, repetitive bending can also cause cartilage damage. Moreover, an imbalance or weakness of the muscles supporting a joint can also lead to cartilage breakdown in joints.
- Genes – Various genetic traits can also make a person more likely to develop osteoarthritis.
People who are fully aware of the root cause of osteoarthritis will find it easier to change their diet and unhealthy lifestyle habits, which will help them prevent inflammation from developing further.
A great way to reduce inflammation is by getting the nutrients you need to improve your immune system. That’s why you should enrich your diet with fruits and veggies, as they contain natural antioxidants and essential nutrients that can fight against free radicals and ‘clean-up’ your body of toxins.
In addition to improved diet, you should also include stretching, strengthening, and postural exercises for the painful joints. This is very important because when a painful joint is not moving enough, the condition could become even worse. Also, it is good to engage in impact aerobic exercises like walking and swimming whenever possible.
Foods to avoid: Acidic foods like processed foods, high-calorie foods, white sugar, dairy products, pork, coffee, palm oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, and corn flour. You should also reduce your intake of tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant.
Foods that help: Foods that are rich in copper will help maintain a healthy cartilage – legumes (barley, lentils), nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, pistachio), and mushrooms. You should also consume more foods with high antioxidant content – dark green and yellow-orange vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids (especially from wild-caught salmon). Also, increase your intake of sulfur-containing foods, like garlic, onions, bean sprouts and cabbage.
Healing Foods That Can Prevent Osteoarthritis
Regular consumption of green juices is the best way to remove harmful toxins from your body and reduce inflammation. Cabbage and celery are especially effective in reducing arthritic pain. Combine these superfoods with other veggies like spinach and kale to make a powerful healing juice.
You should also consume beetroot and bitter gourd more often, because they are amazing liver and kidney cleansers.
Also, pineapple, papaya, cucumber, and ginger root are excellent anti-inflammatory foods that must be part of everyone’s diet. You should also include other super healthy foods like carrots, apples, lemons, collard greens, cilantro, fennel, jicama, soursop, and pineapple.
Some Suggested Combos – measurement for one portion
- 2 green apples + 1 cucumber + 6-8 ribs of celery + ¼ lemon
- 2 carrots + ¼ head of cabbage + 6 ribs of celery + thumb-size ginger
- 2 green apples + ¼ lemon + 6 ribs of celery + 6 leaves of Collard greens
- 2 green apples + 1 cucumber + 1 small bitter gourd + ¼ lemon + 1 carrot
- 2 green apples + 1 fennel + a bunch of spinach + ¼ lemon slice + thumb-size ginger
- 1 cucumber + 2 medium-sized beetroot + ½ lemon + thumb-size ginger
- 2 green apples + ½ small pineapple + 6-8 leaves of kale + ¼ lemon slice + 1 cucumber