Thursday, October 22, 2009

Arthritis: Soup, Suppleness and Supplements

Arthritis can be very painful and debilitating. What can we do?

My 92-year-old mother, an artist living in Canmore in the Canadian Rockies, has osteoarthritis. Recently I’ve been reading all the research work on arthritis to keep my Mom as healthy as possible and active in her profession.

Here are recommendations:

Care of Arthritis

1. Medication and surgery: Follow the recommendations of your physician. Limit alcohol with certain medications.

2. Soak in a warm bath, swim in a heated pool, or apply heat or cold to the area around the affected joint to help reduce pain.

3. Food Intake:
a. Weight loss may be necessary to reduce stress on joints. Please refer to my Weight Loss article and work hard at it. Less weight on arthritic joints will be worth making the food intake changes.
b. Many people with arthritis have dentures, which lead to difficulty eating and loss of appetite. Be sure to choose nutritious, high fiber foods (see article on Fiber) to keep you in your best health. Some examples of easy-to-chew foods to add to your menu:
Grain Products: Oat cereal or cereal soaked in milk, whole-wheat pasta, fresh whole-wheat bread
Vegetables and Fruit: Fruit juices, mashed bananas, ripe pears, applesauce, stewed prunes, canned fruits, vegetable juices and soups, cooked vegetables, mashed potato and squash
Milk Products: Milk, yogurt, soft cheese
Meat and Alternatives: Canned fish, poached flaked fish, eggs, ground beef or chicken, chili, smooth peanut butter Extras: Dunk cookies in tea or coffee, pancakes, puddings, ice cream, jelly, margarine, salad dressings, seasonings

4. Exercise
a. A daily walk or swim helps keep joints moving, reduces pain, and strengthens muscles around the joints.
b. Keep your joints flexible by moving them to their fullest extent. Do these exercises daily. My Mom does them in the bath.
c. Build your endurance by exercising for short periods of time, several times a day, building up to 30 minutes, three times a week
d. Rest is also important for the joints affected by arthritis.

5. Supplements
You may need to take a 100% RDA multi-vitamin and mineral supplement as a safety measure. For some people, there may be improvement with glucosamine and chondroitin supplements. Tell your doctor and be careful - follow the directions on the package. Don’t overdose.

How does my Mother feel? Well, she has now moved to computer art, as her hands shake. She says she feels fine. Is it the diet, the exercise, the medications, the supplements or just that she never complains? Not complaining is surely the best medicine.