With aging, long-term use, and high-impact stress, articular cartilage can degenerate and wear out over time leading to joint problems. This can cause joint deformation, bone spurs, and a loss of elasticity, also known as osteoarthritis (OA). The resultant joint pain, swelling, and stiffness often lead to decreased function and mobility.
Osteoarthritis commonly affects the hands and weight-bearing joints, such as the hips, knees, and back. It’s typically a condition of middle to old age, and women are more commonly affected than men.
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Clinical symptoms of joint problems
The swelling and joint pain of OA usually occurs when a person is overactive, goes up and down a lot of stairs, or when standing or sitting for long periods of time. Morning joint stiffness is common and usually lessens throughout the day, while joint pain usually increases during the day with more use.
A clicking or cracking sound may be heard when the joint moves, and a “crunching” sensation, called crepitus, may be felt with movement. Deformity and contracture may develop in OA, leading to decreased range of motion. If this occurs in your knee, for example, you may not be able to straighten your leg.
X-rays characteristically show joint space narrowing, osteophytes (also known as bone spurs), hardening of tissue just below the cartilage, and subluxation and deformation may also develop.
While people today have longer lifespans, joint problems such as osteoarthritis can have a significant negative impact on their quality of life. Eating the right diet is an important foundation in helping prevent the pain and inflammation of osteoarthritis. Studies show that an anti-inflammatory diet, which includes things like dark leafy green vegetables, healthy oils like olive oil and omega-3 fatty acids, nuts, garlic, and turmeric can all help.
Two important foods
Let’s take a closer look at a couple of foods that stand out among the others.
Yuba, also called bean curd stick or skin, is a soy product that’s popular in Asian culture. Not only does it taste delicious, but it also has a high nutritional value. Yuba contains a lot of dietary fiber as well as nutrients, such as calcium, that may help slow down the progression of osteoarthritis. Due to its high fiber content, yuba can also promote gastrointestinal digestion and protect the stomach.
Fish is popular around the world. Because it’s high in healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids, particularly fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel, and because it contains a variety of trace elements and protein, fish is great for the body. Eating fish regularly not only provides a large amount of protein, which effectively helps increase muscle mass, but it also provides calcium and other nutrients, making bones and joints healthier.
Two important beverages
There are also two beneficial drinks worth discussing.
When it comes to arthritis benefits, tea is one of the most-studied drinks. While green, white, and black teas all have abundant polyphenols — compounds with powerful anti-inflammatory benefits — green tea is known to have the largest amount of the polyphenol EGCG. Studies have shown EGCG’s antioxidant power to be up to 100 times stronger than that of Vitamins C and E. EGCG has also been shown to help preserve bone and cartilage.
Although the calcium content of soy milk is not as rich as regular milk, drinking soy milk every day can also provide a beneficial amount of calcium. The most important thing is that soy milk is rich in dietary fiber, and the fat content is much lower than regular milk. So drinking soy milk may not only help prevent weight gain, but it may also promote weight loss.
By focusing on a few simple dietary changes, you may be able to help decrease the pain and inflammation seen in osteoarthritis, while also slowing down the progression of this common condition.
Translated by Patty Zhang and edited by T Denning