Everyone wants to live a healthy lifestyle. This can be especially true if you have Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). Although there is no cure for most forms of arthritis, you can lead a more active and pain-free life by living with an understanding of the condition and how your lifestyle may play a role in preventing future flare-ups.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory condition that attacks the joints. It's one of the most common forms of arthritis and can affect any joint, but it's most commonly seen in the hands, wrists, feet, hips, and knees.
When you have RA, your immune system attacks your joints and other tissues. The result can be swelling, pain, stiffness, limited range of motion and restricted movement.
You may also experience joint stiffness that doesn't go away after resting or exercise. Your fingers may feel swollen or stiff when you wake up in the morning, or you may only be able to open your hand halfway after a night's sleep because of your arthritis pain.
A Guide to Having a Healthy Lifestyle with Rheumatoid Arthritis
Here are the things you can do to maintain a healthy lifestyle, including diet and exercise, even if you're not feeling well.
A healthy diet
Eat more fruits and vegetables. They are high in fiber, vitamins and minerals, and they help keep your blood sugar level stable. You should eat at least five servings of produce per day.
If you have RA, eating high-sodium foods may increase your risk of developing kidney problems, according to the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. Try to limit your intake of processed meats — like hot dogs, bologna or salami — that contain sodium nitrite; these meats may increase blood pressure as well as put you at risk for developing heart disease over time. Instead opt for low-sodium meats such as lean beef or turkey; skinless poultry; fish with little or no added salt (such as salmon or tilapia); and other low-sodium options such as low-fat yogurt or cheese slices.
Get enough rest
It’s important that people with RA get enough sleep every night because sleep deprivation can affect mood, energy levels and overall well-being. Aim for at least 7 hours of sleep each night. If you haven’t been getting enough sleep lately because of your symptoms, talk with your doctor about ways to improve your sleeping habits.
Balance is key to staying healthy with RA. You need to keep your weight under control so that your knees don't ache all day long, for example. If you're overweight, try losing a few pounds slowly over time by eating less and exercising more — this can help reduce joint pain, improve range of motion in your joints and prevent additional damage to your joints from excess weight gain.
Don't skip meals or snacks
Eating regularly throughout the day keeps blood sugar levels stable so they don't spike after exercise when they could lead to muscle soreness or fatigue later on in the day. In addition, eating small meals throughout the day helps you avoid overeating at night which can lead to weight gain over time if not handled properly.
Try to do 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week; for example, walking for 30 minutes every morning before breakfast or doing light housework for 30 minutes on most days during the week (e.g., vacuuming upstairs). You should also stay active throughout the day—even if you're just getting up from sitting down for too long!
Drink plenty of water every day—even if you're not thirsty (because you'll be!). It keeps your blood flowing freely, so that your joints stay lubricated and comfortable.
Keep track of what you're eating and drink—and why!
Try logging everything you eat in an online food diary or journal, so that when you get hungry, you can see how much food is actually in your diet compared to how much has been consumed over the course of the day or week. This will help give you a better picture of what goes into your body and why it affects how well your body works overall.
You might be thinking that it's not possible to lead a healthy lifestyle when you have this chronic illness, but it is. The key is to make small adjustments so you can maintain your health, and not be derailed by your condition. There's no need to feel hopeless or defeated, because there's still a lot you can do to keep yourself healthy.
The information shared in this blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. Please consult your doctor.
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