Arthritis is a disease that affects millions in Australia, but receives little love. Funding is poor, treatment options are limited, media coverage is negligible and research lags behind conditions with far fewer sufferers.
It’s hard to know what to do about this situation. But as an arthritis sufferer myself, I believe the best approach is to focus on YOU. There are a number of lifestyle changes you can make that, collectively, make a big difference.
The tricky thing is knowing where to start. A recent national survey conducted by the Wellvess Arthritis Vitality Program showed people are desperate for help. Over 80% ‘strongly agreed’ that treatments beyond surgery and hard drugs are required. Yet almost one-half did not know where to turn or felt they lacked support and advice. Part of the problem is there are so many health ‘fads & fashions’ which cloud the issue and make finding the proven changes difficult.
For anyone with arthritis, I’d like to suggest five lifestyle changes you can make that are likely to make a difference. All are evidence-based and proven to play a role in reducing the symptoms of arthritis over time.
- Ditch sugary and oily nasties
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Certain foods actually exacerbate inflammatory diseases like arthritis and should be avoided. It’s madness to put something into your body that fuels your worst enemy. Top of the list of bad guys are processed sugars and trans fats. They are common in processed foods, so cooking yourself more often is a great move. Try to use healthier alternatives for a sweet hit, such as honey or dates. Use olive and coconut oil for cooking, dressings and baking.
- Embrace anti-inflammatory friends
Once you’ve broken-up with the baddies, it’s time to make new friends! And the good guys are the anti-inflammatory foods that actually help relieve arthritic inflammation. Why wouldn’t you eat them? In bucket loads! Many foods fit within this category, including most fruits, vegetables and nuts. Berries, apples, apricots and cherries are particularly potent fruits. Veggies to load-up on are sweet potatoes, broccoli, mushrooms, and red onion. Oily fish (think salmon, tuna and mackerel) provides much needed anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid. You can mix them all in a delicious omelette!
- Move from coffee bean to tea leaf
Fully caffeinated coffee with milk is not a great choice for people with arthritis. Consider switching to green or white tea, which is actually anti-inflammatory, full of anti-oxidants and still picks you up.
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- Spice it up
Herbs and spices are powerful anti-inflammatory foods and you can sneak them into all sorts of dishes and drinks. Turmeric, chilli and oregano are great flavour additions to recipes such as soups, roasts, pasta dishes and stir fries. Cinnamon can work in both savoury and sweet dishes, where it works as a great substitute for sugar.
- Make smarter alcohol choices
Alcohol is pretty harmful for everyone; for people with inflammatory diseases, it’s a nightmare. It’s not just the alcohol itself, think of all the added, processed sugar. Across the population, alcohol consumption is falling. So it’s easier and more socially acceptable to drop the booze now than in the past. If you must have a drink – and believe me there are times – then choose lower alcohol options or just have one glass every now and then