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Osteoarthritis: Weight loss, balanced diet and exercise can help lower your risk

Osteoarthritis: Weight loss, balanced diet and exercise can help lower your risk

New Delhi: Osteoarthritis (OA), the most common form of arthritis, is a degenerative bone disease leading to wear and tear of cartilaginous ends of the two articulating joint surfaces. Research has shown that weight loss can help prevent the onset of osteoarthritis, reduce symptoms and improve the quality of life. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 9.6% of men and 18.0% of women aged over 60 years have symptomatic osteoarthritis worldwide. While 80% of those with osteoarthritis have limitations in movement, 25% cannot perform their major daily activities of life.

Osteoarthritis is one of the fastest-growing diseases and is estimated to affect 630 million people worldwide - i.e 15% of the world population. It is the most frequent joint disease with a prevalence of 22% to 39% in India. This type of arthritis is more common in women than in men. Nearly 45% of women over the age of 65 have symptoms while 70% of those above 65 years have OA features in X rays.

Losing weight to manage or prevent Osteoarthritis

A balanced diet

One of the prime causes lies in obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. A balanced diet can help to reduce weight, maintain the bone and muscle strength, leading to less wear and tear of weight-bearing joints.

A balanced diet must include:

  • 40% of fruits and vegetables
  • 25% of fibre-rich carbohydrates
  • 25% of proteins
  • and 10 % of fats

Fruits such as watermelon, grapes, strawberries, avocado and dark green leafy vegetables - broccoli, spinach etc - sweet potato, carrots, onion, garlic, olive, ginger, and mushrooms may help prevent osteoarthritis.

Fibre-rich carbohydrates like whole-grain wheat, brown rice, barley, quinoa, and millets have anti-inflammatory properties.

For proteins, include oily fish, nuts like peanuts, almonds, walnuts, and pistachios. A balanced diet must include spices like cinnamon and turmeric. Fats from walnut oil, avocado oil, and canola oils may help prevent OA.

People suffering from early osteoarthritis or initial joint cartilage loss can rebuild their cartilage by including legumes, oranges, pomegranates, brown rice, nuts and green tea in regular food intake, said Dr DK Das, Senior Consultant, Orthopaedic & Joint Replacement Surgeon, Apollo Spectra, New Delhi. To lubricate the joints, one can have salmon, olive oil, nuts and avocados and supplements rich in DHA form of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, calcium and glucosamine, Dr Das added.


Low impact exercises like aerobic exercise can help control weight by increasing the number of calories the body uses. Aerobic exercises include walking, jogging, bicycling, swimming or using the elliptical machine. Exercises that help in strengthening your knees are - hamstring curls, straight leg raises, wall squats, calf raising exercises, step-ups, sit-ups, and leg presses.

The key to healthy, lasting weight loss is finding a balance between diet and exercise. A healthy diet and a regular exercise regimen can help prevent various health conditions, including OA.

Tips to maintain a healthy knee

Reduce body weight: Simply walking around puts pressure equal to three to five times the bodyweight on your knees. So, reducing the body weight reduces the excess weight on knee joints, which may help prevent osteoarthritis and degeneration of the joint.

Regular muscular exercises: All muscles around the knee joint that is quads (front of thigh), hamstrings (tendons and muscles behind the knee and thigh), and hip abductors and adductors (outer and inner thighs, respectively) should be included in a regular exercise regime.

Knee friendly sports: One should choose a knee-friendly sport like rowing, cross-country skiing, and cycling that causes a low impact on knees and prevent twisting.

Immediate Remedy: Whenever a twist or strain happens don’t forget to use ice on the affected area to prevent inflammation and pain.

Precaution during exercise: While exercising, land with joints aligned so that hips are over the knees, and knees are over ankles, and ankles are over toes to avoid knee injuries. Running in the hilly ground or inclined plane should be done with intervals. Use knee in case of previous injuries.

Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purpose only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a dietician before starting any fitness programme or making any changes to your diet.

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