Living with Arthritis
The United States is on the brink of a longevity revolution. By 2030, the number of older Americans will have more than doubled to 70 million, or one in every five Americans. The growing number and proportion of older adults places increasing demands on the public health system and on medical and social services.
Chronic diseases exact a particularly heavy health and economic burden on older adults due to associated long-term illness, diminished quality of life, and greatly increased health care costs. Although the risk of disease and disability clearly increases with advancing age, poor health is not an inevitable consequence of aging.
Much of the illness, disability, and death associated with chronic disease is avoidable through known prevention measures. Key measures include practicing a healthy lifestyle (e.g., regular physical activity, healthy eating, and avoiding tobacco use) and the use of early detection practices (e.g., screening for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers, diabetes and its complications, and depression).
Critical knowledge gaps exist for responding to the health needs of older adults. For chronic diseases and conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, arthritis, depression, psychiatric disorders, osteoporosis, Parkinson's disease, and urinary incontinence, much remains to be learned about their distribution in the population, associated risk factors, and effective measures to prevent or delay their onset.
Arthritis is one of the oldest known afflictions and can affect virtually every part of the body, from the feet to the knees, back, shoulders and fingers. More than 50 million (about one in six) Americans suffer from arthritis. The most common types are rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and gouty arthritis.
There are natural ways to improve your arthritis symptoms. Dairy products, caffeine, citrus fruits, paprika, salt, tobacco and sugar should be reduced or eliminated from your diet, as these foods may increase joint inflammation. Additionally, nightshades (e.g., red, green, and yellow bell peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, white flesh potatoes) should be avoided because they have a tendency to intensify arthritic symptoms. Foods containing sulfur, such as asparagus, eggs, garlic and onions, are important for the repair and rebuilding of bone, cartilage and connective tissue, and also aid in the absorption of calcium. Other good foods include green, leafy vegetables (which supply vitamin K), fresh vegetables, non-acidic fresh fruits, whole grains, oatmeal, brown rice and fish. Fresh pineapple contains bromelain, a powerful natural anti-inflammatory agent, which works by stimulating the body’s production of prostaglandins.
One of the most overlooked approaches to improve the discomfort associated with arthritis is hydration. Depending on your level of activity, a good rule of thumb is to drink half of your weight in ounces. Thus, if you weigh 180 pounds, you should consume 90 ounces of pure, filtered water per day.
Arthritis in any form can be a debilitating condition that prevents you from living the life you want. Rather than immediately accepting the dangerous side effects of drugs and risky surgeries, talk to your doctor about natural alternatives to keep your muscles and joints in optimal condition.