Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Osteoarthritis: Keep your joints in good shape – avoid sugar, watch your waist, and stay active

Healthy joints are critical to enjoying life as we get older.  Three important steps we can take to prevent painful osteoarthritis of the hips, knees, thumbs, spine, and shoulders are:
  1. Reducing excess waistline and weight
  2. Avoiding added sweetening and refined grains (especially white flour and white rice)
  3. Staying active 
These choices protect the joints from excessive mechanical forces while also improving the ability of the joint to repair itself.  Too much weight around the middle combined with excess sugar and refined grains plus too little activity create a cascade of metabolic effects that accelerate wear and tear on joints. [1]  They start to hurt, and next thing you know your doctor is talking about joint replacement.

So, take action as soon as you get the first hint that you are developing “metabolic syndrome,” a condition notable for three or more of the following:
  1. Fasting blood sugar greater than 100 or being treated for high blood sugar
  2. Waistline greater than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men; less for small framed people
  3. Blood pressure greater than 135/85 or being treated for high blood pressure
  4. Triglycerides greater than 150 mg/dl
  5. HDL cholesterol lower than 40 mg/dl for men and 50 mg/dl for women
Once “end-stage” osteoarthritis of a joint is diagnosed, is it too late for lifestyle choices to make a difference?  We’re glad you asked.  Even in the case of “end-stage” or “bone-on-bone” joints facing replacement surgery, we have seen dramatic improvement in joint pain when overall health is improved.  (Some nutritional supplements that can occasionally help with osteoarthritis are worth considering and can be discussed during a consultation.)

An example of these lifestyle choices at work is one of our patients who at 75 had previously had one knee replacement surgery and was scheduled to have the other replaced.  He decided to try a non-surgical path and reduced his intake of sugar and other refined foods.  With his healthier diet and resulting weight loss,
  • he was able to reverse his type 2 diabetes,
  • his blood pressure (BP) improved and he was able to stop his BP medications,
  • his knee stopped hurting, and he felt better than he had for decades.
Five years later he still has his original knee and still needs no blood pressure or diabetes medications!
 
My recommendation:
If you have the metabolic syndrome, reverse it using the 14-step Risk Reduction Action Plan on pages 59-92 of Good Food, Great Medicine (3rd edition).  Target the following lifestyle choices to get a jump start:
  1. Reduce excess waistline and weight (see page 60-61).
  2. Avoid added sweeteners and refined grains (see pages 42-46 and 73-77).
  3. Keep active.  You’ll also find tips for daily exercise on pages 50-55, especially the tips for arthritic joints like trekking poles on page 53. 
Miles Hassell MD

5 comments:

  1. Great Info! Thank you for this!

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