Many elderly individuals today experience arthritis, which is a prevalent health problem. The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which usually strikes weight-bearing joints such as the ankles, knees, and hips.
The wearing down of cartilage, the protective material in our joints, leads to the sensation of pain. About 85% of adults who reach age 85 will have osteoarthritis–unless they take a proactive approach to prevent it.
Exercise is essential. But what about diet?
For a long time, doctors doubted there could be any link between diet and osteoarthritis. They saw the disease as a natural result of joint wear and tear, something inevitable as we age.
But new research is making them reconsider that idea.
Adequate nutrition is highly significant in preventing or mitigating the impact of osteoarthritis. One key element is vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and may protect the joints from the damaging effects of free radicals (unstable molecules that can cause joint inflammation).
Recent research shows that vitamin C can help prevent bone loss and cartilage inadequacies associated with aging. The healing of soft tissue in your joints requires vitamin C. It helps to keep your cartilage “young.”
According to Dr. Timothy McAlindon of the Boston University School of Medicine, “Vitamin C may also help generate collagen, which enhances the body’s ability to repair damage to the cartilage.”
When scientists at the Boston University School of Medicine studied the eating habits of people with osteoarthritis of the knee, they found that those getting the most vitamin C–more than 200 milligrams a day–were three times less likely to have the disease get worse than those who got the most minor vitamin C (less than 120 milligrams a day).
Dr. McAlindon recommends getting at least 120 milligrams of vitamin C daily. “That’s the amount in a couple of oranges,” he says.
Dr. Michael F. Roizen and Dr. Mehmet C. Oz, co-authors of “You: The Owner’s Manual,” recommend even more. “Shoot for 1200 milligrams of vitamin C daily–spread between your diet and supplements throughout the day.”
Be careful not to overdo it. More than 2,500 milligrams a day can have the opposite effect and increase the risk of osteoarthritis. Dr. Eve Campanelli, a holistic family practitioner in Beverly Hills, CA, recommends black cherry juice.
She advises her patients to drink two glasses, twice a day, of four ounces of the juice diluted with four ounces of water. Other fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C include oranges, cantaloupe, broccoli, strawberries, peppers, and cranberry juice.
Nutrition experts recommend consuming ample fruits and vegetables daily to foster a healthy eating pattern. Now, there’s another reason to pay attention–it can help your joints to stay young!