Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease of the joints that occurs when the tissue at the end of bones begins to thin and roughen. It can cause discomfort and a lack of mobility – especially in the neck, shoulders, hands, lower back, knees, or hips – and is one of the most frequent causes of physical disability among older adults, increasing rapidly after the age of 50. Fortunately, there are seven, evidence-based methods that mature people are using to reverse symptoms of osteoarthritis and keep their joints healthy.
For a deeper look into the scientific research behind these methods, see the citations below this article.
1. Avocado/Soybean Unsaponifiables
Avocado/soybean unsaponifiables (ASU) are extracts from avocados and soybean oil. Taking ASU (300-600 mg a day for 1.5 months or more) might slow progression of osteoarthritis, while also reducing pain and improving joint function.
2. Curcumin for Osteoarthritis
Curcumin is the medicinal compound found within the root spice turmeric that is believed to protect cartilage and reduce pain and inflammation in human joints. Doses of 200 mg a day (for up to 3 months) were found to be beneficial if they came in a highly absorbable formula.
3. Light Mobility Drills and Stress-Relieving Techniques
Exposure to cigarette smoke can dramatically exacerbate osteoarthritis symptoms and so it’s important to find ways other than smoking and alcohol to soothe the central nervous system.
Mindfulness meditation, visualization, and psychotherapy can be helpful to improve one’s baseline of relaxation.
Exercise in the form of stretching, Pilates, yoga, swimming, or mobility drills not only helps the central nervous system to regulate but also provides the added benefit of assisting the synovial fluid in lubricating the joints.
4. SAM-e for Osteoarthritis
1200mg of the nutrient SAM-e was associated with significant improvements in joint pain and functionality after 30 days in adults with osteoarthritis. Secondarily, there have also been documented improvements in mood.
If you have highly sensitive skin, SAM-e might cause blemishes, in which case a lower dosage could be appropriate. Each person responds differently. Ask your doctor first.
5. Topicals of Arnica, Capsaicin, or BioFreeze
For stiff or achy hands, some people have found arnica gel helpful. But don’t use capsaicin or BioFreeze gel for your hands, as you might inadvertently touch your face or eyes – and that would sting (capsaicin is made from chili peppers)!
Capsaicin or BioFreeze is better for lessening discomfort in the lower back or knees. (These topicals don’t always work as well on hip pain, because the hip joints are deeper inside the body and farther away from the skin.)
6. Vitamin D
Research has established that people with significant osteoarthritis symptoms are usually also deficient in Vitamin D.
Vitamin D plays a role in bone health, but it has numerous other benefits as well. Adults can take anywhere from 1,000 to 4,000IU/day, though many doctors recommend 5,000IU. It depends partly on your body size and current diet.
7. An Anti-Inflammatory Lifestyle Diet
Osteoarthritis is not an autoimmune response. Even so, an anti-inflammatory diet can still help osteoarthritis indirectly, because the diet helps to improve cellular health which, in turn, helps everything else.
An anti-inflammatory diet seeks to remove irritants from one’s daily menu and so consists mostly of vegetables and lean meats.
By the way, it’s not unusual for people to have rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis concurrently, in which case an anti-inflammatory diet will prove even more helpful since rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune response.
How You Can Start to Eat an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
I solve a big problem for people.
Modern humans are not as healthy as they could be, and so I help them become healthier.
But here’s the thing: how that problem gets solved is what surprises people.
For example, many people over the age of 50 would like to have a trim waistline again, or even to be able to see the definition of their abdominal muscles.
But that problem gets solved mostly in the kitchen, not at the gym.
Many people still don’t clearly understand that reducing inflammation has such a positive impact on one’s overall health and appearance.
My mission is to help people extend the number of healthy years in their lifespan so that they can experience more relevance, more joy, and have more opportunities to make a positive impact in the world.
When you’re 90 years old, I want you to be able to do two things:
- to feel deep satisfaction and fulfillment.
- to be able to enjoy supple joints and long walks.
Do you want that for yourself as well?
Changing Nutritional Habits Can Be Challenging
Sometimes, another person will give us advice but we can’t really “hear” it with our whole being.
Our intellect may understand the advice, but the rest of our psyche needs more time and life experience before we can fully appreciate it.
This is what medical doctors, nutritionists, therapists, and naturopaths have to contend with in their daily work:
- how much do they reveal to their patients?
- is the patient ready to hear it, or will hearing it only increase their resistance?
To thrive in our daily lives, we need air, water, food, shelter, and love. After those 5 fundamental needs, things start to get a bit …optional.
If there’s something that we can’t imagine living without, that often is a sign that we might be addicted to it.
When the Doctor Says, “Change, or Else.”
Just because we can’t imagine ourselves living without something (coffee, pasta, hamburgers, beer, cookies) doesn’t mean we couldn’t live and be happy without it, it’s just that we can’t imagine it because that particular thing has become so habitual within our weekly lives.
It has become a dependable comfort.
I’m intrigued by the timing of the intervention: when is the best time to tell someone that their very life may depend on changing a particular habit?
We can explore the possibilities of what gradual changes can be made to our daily menu choices so that those healthy choices don’t feel like a “quit-cold-turkey” diet or a fast.
I’ve found that when people are asked to radically change their diets overnight, they’re less likely to be able to sustain the healthy changes – than when they make changes more gradually.
Feel (and Look) Fantastic by Making Gradual Diet Changes
You can make improvements and changes to your daily lifestyle habits that are a bit faster than what is completely comfortable, but still gradual enough that you won’t go into psychological resistance and undermine your own efforts.
The big idea here is to extend one’s healthspan – not just lifespan:
- By knowing exactly how much fat is on your body, you’ll then be able to determine what weight loss techniques are working for you and which are not moving the needle. Knowing this will better assist you in reaching a healthy weight. (Personally, the best way I’ve found to keep track is by using a soft tape measure around the widest part of my waistline, after waking in the morning and after using the bathroom.
- You can easily discover what your DNA says about how well you’re aging. Monitor the vitality of your own cells: a simple genetic test – collected at home – can reveal your cellular age.
- Healthspan refers to the number of years within your lifetime that you can remain robustly healthy, active and energized. The latest in longevity supplementation is NAD. Representing a recent breakthrough in lab research, NAD can now be injested in a daily pill that can help the body’s mitochondria repair and heal. NAD levels naturally decrease as humans age, so topping up NAD to youthful levels can help promote cellular health – the kind of health that matters most.
- A lower-carbohydrate, higher protein diet harks back to a time before processed, simple carbohydrates were easily available, and allows for the consumption of healthy fats.
Data reveals that the average person will put on at least 6 pounds at the end of this year:
- If you begin counting the holiday season at October 31st, then, statistically, it will likely be more than 6 added pounds.
- If a person takes a vacation during the final quarter of the year (one week or more off from work), then that, too, usually means more than 6 pounds will be gained.
Maintain a Healthy Weight to Reduce Osteoarthritis Symptoms
I’d like to talk about your ratio of muscle versus body fat, and ask you to consider going in the opposite direction as everyone else:
- What would it be like if next January arrived and you were in better shape, not worse?
This quick review of the fundamental principles of an anti-inflammatory diet might prove helpful to you:
- The typical modern menu contains a plethora of dietary irritants that trigger your body’s need to pad vital organs with layers of visceral fat in an attempt to protect them from further irritation.
- Body composition is a result of, yes, calories-in versus calories-out. However, it’s also true that when your overall health improves, your body’s individual systems – including metabolism – tend to run more efficiently.
Understand the Foothold Concept the Supports Your Health Improvement
An individual dietary intervention might make only a 1% positive difference. However, when you stack many nutritional upgrades at once, then these little improvements add up to one big impact – and this can give your body the foothold it needs to pull its health and appearance up to the next level.
The “skinny-fat” condition refers to someone who might look trim in clothes, but in reality, lacks enough healthy muscle tone:
- Adding muscle increases your energy expenditure.
- If a skinny-fat person added 10 pounds of muscle – evenly distributed among the major muscle groups of their body – it would not look like “weight,” but rather would look lean and healthy.
- You can get leaner without losing muscle tone if you’re willing to stretch out the fat loss over a period of time – usually at a pace of 1 pound (or 0.45 kilogram) per week. Losing at this pace has the added benefit of preventing metabolic adaptation (a process which causes your body to mistakenly think you’re experiencing a famine and to preserve fat cells as nature’s way of compensating for a perceived lack of food).
The more muscle you have, the harder it is to gain fat. This is because muscle cells are efficient glycogen storage tanks (and your body will fill up those glycogen tanks before converting carbs to fat)! That translates to:
- 10 pounds of muscle means you can probably have a 1,400-calorie cheat meal each week. (Fun!)
- 10 pounds of muscle also means your body can store up to 200 grams of glycogen in your muscles, and that means a larger ratio of your daily calories can go toward carbs. (More fun!)
Finally, I leave you with these two friendly reminders:
- There’s more to adding healthy muscle than just eating enough protein. Case in point: many bodybuilders I know are highly inflamed. They have a lot of muscle, but their faces are puffy, their stomachs are bloated, and they’re gassy often.
- Putting muscle aside, the biggest benefit of an anti-inflammatory diet is an extended, healthy lifespan. You might think now you don’t care about living a longer life, but when you’re in your 70s with a strong, flexible body, I assure you that you’ll be grateful for all the healthy choices you made along the way.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease of the joints causing discomfort and stiffness. This article has revealed how people over 50 can keep their joints healthy.
If you need help getting started, I recommend that you opt-in to my email update. The messages are motivational and strategic – and will help you stay on track.
Additional Sources for Osteoarthritis and Recommended Reading:
National Institute on Aging – https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/osteoarthritis
ASU Supplementation – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9433873/
Benefits of Turmeric – https://examine.com/supplements/curcumin/
SAM-e and Osteoarthritis – https://examine.com/rubric/effects/view/627b48d497f10335487c6a01bbeb8720/846e9c6e95a32a8d804f103ffdde3f80/all/
Osteoarthritis Interventions – https://www.rheumatology.org/Portals/0/Files/Osteoarthritis-Guideline-Early-View-2019.pdf
Top-Up Your Vitamin D Levels – https://examine.com/supplements/vitamin-d/