Healthy Living

Being Overweight Can Complicate Rheumatoid Arthritis

Being Overweight Can Complicate Rheumatoid Arthritis

Key Takeaways

  •  Carrying excess weight can add stress to your fragile joints if you have rheumatoid arthritis.

If you have rheumatoid arthritis, any excess weight is going to negatively affect you. Carrying that excess weight can stress your painful and fragile joints. However, research shows that the mechanical effects of weight are only part of the problem.

Fat itself releases chemicals including tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and interleukin-1 (IL-1), which trigger the production of inflammation. These chemicals may not only increase the risk of developing some forms of arthritis, but they also increase the symptoms of arthritis. Aside from that, excess body fat could also lead to complications such as stroke, diabetes and heart disease.

Fat is also a chemical that constantly releases proteins called cytokines, that cause inflammation. More fat means more cytokines produced, which will eventually circulate in the body.

Based on a study presented at the 2015 annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology, individuals with early rheumatoid arthritis who are overweight or obese have a reduced chance of attaining a sustained remission.

There are many risk factors of arthritis that you can’t change, such as age, sex, and family history. However,weight is one factor you can change. 

Take a walk

Walking is one of the best and easiest forms of exercise for people with arthritis. Walking is a low-impact exercise that can be done almost everywhere at any time of the day. Walking burns approximately 100 calories per mile depending on your weight and other factors.

Turn to foods naturally low in fat and calories

Try to make substitutions in your diet so you can enjoy almost all of the foods you love and still lose weight. Follow nutritional labels, and be careful not to fall for foods that advertise that they are low fat — they could be extremely high in sugar.

Try to eat early

Calories consumed in the evening have less time to be burned off before bedtime. Set a time to have an early dinner and resolve to not eat after that.

If you can’t fight the urge to eat again, brushing your teeth around your cut-off time can help you not to eat because the brushing may reduce cravings. Your teeth are clean for the night so brushing also reminds you that you are done for the night and your next meal is until next morning.

Eat more produce

Fruits and vegetables are generally lower in calories than other foods. Fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber which will fill you up (you won’t get hungry quickly) so you won’t eat as many rich in calorie foods. Plus, they are full of nutrients which the body needs to stay healthy.

At least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day is recommended by the USDA.

Limit portion sizes

Small frequent meals are recommended to lose weight rather than having large meals. If you want to eat less, serve yourself less. But, if you are still hungry after eating a regular meal, try to limit your second meal to low-calorie foods, such as salads, fruits, and vegetables. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle to achieve a healthy weight can be a challenge. Find ways to make your activities fun and interesting. Make your life easy with arthritis.