Taming the pain: Dietician uses diet and exercise for arthritis Rx | by
As a longtime registered dietician nutritionist (RDN), Susan Piergeorge knows more than just the basics of good health. But even her background didn’t stop Piergeorge, who built her career in Colorado, from developing osteoarthritis, the most common form of the potentially debilitating disease. Nearly a quarter of all Americans and half of people age 65 and older suffer from some form of arthritis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
We sat down with Piergeorge, author of Boomer Be Well! (who has since moved her practice to San Diego), to talk about her experience with osteoarthritis and why baby boomers are so prone to it. Piergeorge shared what foods can help ease the joint pain the degenerative disease causes and why it’s so important to get moving, even when the pain is at its worst.
H&W: What prompted you to write your book?
Piergeorge: As I myself am a baby boomer, I saw the need for this generation to be armed with the tools of health maintenance. Our generation is one that defies aging and stays active. Maintaining health is important to many in our generation and can be so easy; we just have to make the effort.
H&W: What makes baby boomers especially prone to osteoarthritis?
Piergeorge: Baby boomers tend to be more inquisitive about trying new activities and adventures. Many in our generation also embraced regular exercise routines. When we were growing up, information regarding prevention and nutrition was just starting to emerge. OA can creep up later in life due to earlier wear and tear on the body.
H&W: Can you describe your personal struggles with OA?
Piergeorge: It can be challenging some days to open a jar, button a blouse or type on a keyboard. I just get moving and do the best I can. I also eat foods associated with reducing inflammation.
H&W: Why is moving despite the pain so important?
Piergeorge: There are days when it’s tough to get moving because joints are stiff and you ache all over, but if you warm up gently and then increase circulation, it really helps with pain and stiffness. Aerobic exercise also helps to release endorphins, which naturally boost our mood and can help with pain management. Moving throughout the day, even in small spurts, reduces stiffness.
H&W: What other preventative tips can you share?
Piergeorge: It’s important to maintain a healthy weight. For every pound of excess weight, four pounds of stress are added to our knees and 10 pounds to the hips. Keeping muscles strong to better support the joints is also critical. Overall, eating well and maintaining some sort of physical activity are helpful for treating and preventing OA. It’s a manageable condition in which lifestyle is key.
Piergeorge’s tips on eating an anti-inflammatory diet:
Consume foods in the allium family, like garlic, onions, shallots, leeks and scallions.
Eat omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and halibut, as well as flaxseed, chia seeds and walnuts.
Snack on about a cup of berries per day. Any type will do; they contain flavonoids called anthocyanins, which can potentially help reduce inflammation. Cherries are also a good source of anthocyanins.
Eat two half-cup servings of pineapple per week. Pineapple contains bromelain, which has been shown to help with maintaining healthy joints and reducing pain.
Drink two cups of green or black tea per day.
Incorporate spices, such as ginger (up to 1 teaspoon daily) and turmeric (¼-½ teaspoon daily), into your diet.
Note: Be sure to check with your health care professional to ensure you don’t have any potential food-medication interactions.
(main photo) Chicken Tumeric Soup by Andrea Juarez: http://www.healthwellnesscolorado.com/turmeric-chicken-soup-recipe/
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