Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that may affect many tissues and organs but primarily affects the small joints of hands & feet. It affects the lining of joints, causing a painful swelling that can eventually cause poor bone density and joint deformity. It can lead to substantial loss of functioning and mobility if appropriate medical treatment is not given on time.
It is an autoimmune disorder which means that the body’s immune system works against own tissues and organs and mistakenly starts attacking them.
Rheumatoid arthritis is more common in women between the ages of 40 and 60.
Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms may vary in the degree of pain and swelling. The symptoms may also disappear at times and come back. Weight loss is also a general symptom of rheumatoid arthritis in many cases. Increased catabolism (muscle breakdown) with loss of appetite can lead to malnourishment. However weight gain is a problem with many living with rheumatoid arthritis. Carrying around extra weight can put more stress on painful joints. Excess fat stored in fat cells secrete certain hormones that can promote bone damage. So, it’s very important to lose any extra weight and maintain weight in a healthy range. With painful joints it might not be possible to maintain a regular normal exercise routine. Moreover, some medications in rheumatoid arthritis can increase appetite and can add on to pounds.
Following guidelines can be helpful in maintaining a healthy weight with rheumatoid arthritis:
Eat A Balanced Diet
Choose low calorie, healthy meal options. Minimize sugar and fat intake in the diet. Opt for seasonal vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lentils, low fat dairy products. Avoid packaged and processed foods. Take advise from a qualified nutritionist who can help you design a well-balanced healthy diet schedule which can also help in losing extra weight.
It’s a very common myth that exercises can harm those with rheumatoid arthritis. In fact, doing joint friendly exercises and water based activities can increase muscle strength and bone structure. Strengthening exercises with low impact cardio like walking, swimming are preferable options.
According to some studies, drinking in moderation on occasions can help in easing joint pain in rheumatoid arthritis. However, drinking alcohol on regular basis can hinder with absorption of vital nutrients. This can also add on to the pounds as alcohol is primarily sugar and can make weight loss difficult.Maintain A Food Diary
Tracking your weight loss progress by writing your daily intake can help you stay disciplined and motivated. Plan ahead your weekly meals and record it on daily basis to reduce chances of deviations and to be on the right track.Re-assess Your Medication
Few medications in rheumatoid arthritis can have side-effects like water retention and increase in appetite contributing to weight gain. If you note these changes take guidance from your doctor and ask for alternatives for such medications.Try the above tips to manage your eating and activity in a better way with rheumatoid arthritis.