Osteoarthritis

OA occurs when the cartilage which fills the spaces between the bones and cushions the bones as they move, wears down. The cartilage can wear away due to daily normal use and overuse. The ends of the bones begin to rub against each other and often develop spurs and cysts. In addition, the tissue that lines the joint may become inflamed and the ligaments and muscles that support the joint weaken.

Overweight women have a 4 times greater risk of Osteoarthritis, and overweight men have five times the risk of normal-weight men.

Control your weight:

Reduce your chances of developing knee OA by maintaining a normal weight or losing some of the excess weight. Losing even a few kilos can make a big difference in the load that we put on our knee.

If you are overweight, talk to your Dietician about a healthy weight loss program that includes eating lots of fresh vegetables and fruits, lean protein and whole grains.

Exercise

Regular, low-impact exercise will help to lose weight and it can help prevent knee OA .It has been seen that people who have arthritis of the knee reduce their physical activity to avoid pain. But that’s the worst thing you can do. It’s critical to keep the knee joint mobile and flexible and to strengthen the muscles around it. This can be done by mixing aerobic exercise with strengthening and flexibility exercises. Aim for at least 30 minutes of low-impact aerobic exercise five days a week. Walking, biking and golfing are all good choices because they don’t place stress on your knee joints.

Studies have shown that water exercise such as swimming or water aerobics are helpful in reducing pain and improving function in those who already have knee OA.

Support the Knee

Wearing a knee brace helps support the knee and reduce pain if you already have arthritis.

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What happens when we Age

Eating a well-planned, nutritious and balance mix of foods every day is a necessity to age properly. It has been proven to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, bone loss, some kinds of cancer, and anaemia. Healthy eating may also help you reduce high blood pressure, lower high cholesterol, and manage diabetes.

Eating well gives you the nutrients needed to keep your muscles, bones, organs, and other parts of your body healthy throughout your life. These nutrients include vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, fats, and water.

Our body changes with aging because changes occur in all parts of the body starting from the smallest constituent of our body, namely the cell.

Body Organs and Cells

Body Cells age and their function also get reduced. Old cells die and get replaced by new cells and in some case as we age they don’t get replaced as part of the normal body processes.
Body organs also become old as we age, as the nos of cells in them reduces and thereby reducing their ability to function. Most internal functions also decline with aging. Most bodily functions peak shortly before age 30 and then the gradual but continuous decline begins. With this decline also, most functions remain adequate because most organs are capable of doing more than the functional capacity that the body needs For example, if half the liver is destroyed, the remaining tissue is more than enough to maintain normal function. Thus, disorders, rather than normal aging, usually account for most of the loss of function in old age. The number of cells in the testes, ovaries, liver, and kidneys decreases as the body ages. When the number of cells becomes too low, an organ cannot function normally. Thus, most organs function less well as people age.

Joints and Bones

Bones tend to become weaker (less dense) and more susceptible to breaking.

In women, bone density reduction increases after menopause as oestrogen production reduces by the body. Oestrogen is a hormone which helps in protecting bone breakdown during the normal processes of bone resorption.

Bones become fragile and weak partly because they contain less calcium (which gives bones strength). Calcium reduces as the body absorbs less calcium from foods. Vitamin D, which helps the body use calcium, also reduces.

Some bones weaken more than others. Most affected are end of the thighbone (femur) at the hip, the ends of the arm bones (radius and ulna) at the wrist, and the bones of the spine (vertebrae).

Cartilage in the joints gets thinner due to wear and tear of years of movement. The surfaces of a joint have reduced ability to slide over each other as they used to, and the joint is more susceptible to injury. Damage to the cartilage due to lifelong use of joints or repeated injury often leads to osteoarthritis, which is one of the most common disorders of later life.

Ligaments, which bind joints together, and tendons, which bind muscle to bone, tend to become less elastic, making joints feel tight or stiff. The tissues also weaken. Hence most people become less flexible. Ligaments tend to tear more easily, and when they tear, they heal more slowly. These changes occur because the cells that maintain ligaments and tendons become less active.

Muscles and Body Fat

The amount of muscle tissue (muscle mass) and muscle strength starts to decrease beginning around age 30 and continues throughout life. Some of the decrease happens due to reduction in growth hormone and testosterone, which drive muscle development.

Muscles cannot contract as quickly as more fast-contracting (fast-twitch) muscle fibers are lost than slow-contracting (slow-twitch) muscle fibers. However, aging’s effects reduce muscle mass and strength by no more than about 10 to 15% during an adult’s lifetime. More severe muscle loss i-which is loss of flesh) results from disease or extreme inactivity, not from aging alone.

Most older people retain enough muscle mass and strength for all necessary tasks. Many older people remain strong athletes. They compete in sports and enjoy vigorous physical activity. However, even the fittest notice some decline as they age.

Physical activity throughout is so important to be able to live when we age. Its not a great feeling if we will be inactive when we age.

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Managing Kids weight

As parents of growing kids we all are constantly worried about the health and well- being of our toddlers or growing kids till they listen to us and we can still influence their food choices. But the current facts and figures from WHO are worrisome and reflect that we are not able to do a good job at that, with alarming increases in Overweight and obese children.

Asia houses 50 % of the world’s obese children & 75 % if we take Africa into account. WHO Reported 41 million obese children under the age of 5 years Kids above 5 years of age and obese would be similarly alarming.

Possible that our kids could be among the counted nos and contributing to the above statistics.

Causes

1.Side effect of globalization and urbanization & children are increasingly being raised in obese genic environments, where fatty foods are the most affordable option or are the only choice for some segments of the society.

2.Urbanization has led to lower or no physical activity for kids growing up today.

3.Some cultures promote overweight child as one that is healthy and is well off. Plump children are not frowned upon and some people even view chubbiness in young children as a sign of good health.

Impact

1.Type-2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the way child’s body uses sugar (glucose). Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. Medical practitioners say that we are seeing younger people getting ischaemic heart disease.

2.Children can develop high blood pressure or high cholesterol due to poor food habits.

3.Children who are overweight or obese may be more likely to have asthma.

4.Symptoms of fatty liver (non- alcoholic) have also been found in obese kids.

5.Children often tease or bully their overweight peers, resulting in loss of self-esteem and can result in depression.

Solutions

1.First, the family needs to acknowledge this a serious problem and needs immediate attention now. Consult a Medical practitioner and a Dietitian on making the right food choices and advise.

2.Obesity is partly genetic and partly created by the environment we live in. Family members have to change/modify their lifestyles and eating habits together as the kids look upon parents and other family members as role models.

3.Engage in physical activity. Parents to participate too in physical activity together.

4.Be aware of the contents of the food that we serve. Good to know what we consume.

5.Reduce snacking of cakes, cookies and sweetened drinks, chips, fried food, burgers etc. As parents let’s show the way by reducing intake of the above.

6.Introduce healthy snack options to the children such as fresh fruits and vegetables with healthy dips(like apple slices, cucumber, carrots, celery sticks with yogurt- mint dip/ guacamole/ fresh salsa).

7.Ensure that fruits and vegetables are part of the daily diet.

8.Nuts are a good source of nutrients and keep us full for a long time.

9.Don’t overfull the plate for children. Ensure only the right portion of the food is served on the plate.

10.Drink adequate glasses of water.

11.Reduce salt intake

This is not to say that we should deprive our kids of our junk food and sweet cravings.

Single scoop of ice cream, one small packet of potato chips, one mid-size serving of Fast food etc. once or twice a week.

It is our responsibility as parents to educate our kids on good food habits and maintain healthy weight and also be role models by following the same.

Meenu Agarwal, Dietitian advises parents on kids weight loss and obesity reduction programs.

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