Managing arthritis is something that most people need to do year round however for some, the cooler months can make it harder for people suffering to manage their symptoms. Many people report that the cool, damp weather intensifies the pain in their joints. At the same time, winter generally presents fewer opportunities to exercise.
Whilst some of these recommendations are specific to winter, most can be applied to any time of the year and can improve the pain and discomfort often associated with arthritis.
In my experience as a nutrition and lifestyle coach, food is the single most important factor in managing arthritis symptoms. Gut health plays a big part in musculoskeletal health and what we eat can be creating more inflammation in our joints resulting in more pain. Cutting out inflammatory foods is one of the best ways to improve joint pain. The best ones to reduce or eliminate are gluten, dairy and sugar. I typically suggest starting with gluten, it is arguably the most inflammatory and also the easiest to remove as there are lots of delicious gluten free options available now.
When it comes to improving arthritis with food, it’s not all elimination. There is one very important food to incorporate that just happens to be tasty too. Bone Broth (more commonly known as Stock) is a wonderful way to improve the health of our bones, muscles and joints. Made the old fashioned way with lots of gelatin producing bones, it will help repair joints from the inside. It’s also a great way to help to heal the gut which reduces inflammation and pain. Winter time is a great time to try making some broth and adding it in to slow cooked meals and soups.
Sometimes as the weather cools, we feel inclined to move less, especially if our joint pain has increased. Movement, like food is something that needs to be incorporated into our lives on a daily basis. For those suffering with arthritis this is even more important as movement reduces pain as well as increases strength and flexibility. Most will agree that regular movement makes us feel more energetic, less lethargic.
When we think about movement, most of us think “exercise” but what is more important is daily mobility of our whole body. One of the best ways to incorporate more movement in every day is to become mindful of it and look for opportunities to move. Below are some recommendations to incorporate more movement in every day;
- Try to get up after you have been sitting for more than 15 minutes, set a timer if this helps
- Take the stairs instead of the lift
- Do some stretches or light movements in front of the TV
- Get a Fitbit and aim to clock 10,000 steps per day
- Walk instead of driving where you can
Making a few subtle changes to your diet and lifestyle can go a long way to managing the pain of arthritis in the winter months and beyond.