Weight Loss: The Most Effective Therapy For Osteoarthritis (OA)?

In our era of baby boomers and Western diet, the population’s average age and body weight—two key biological determinants of musculoskeletal health—continue their upward trend.  Today, almost 3 out for 4 people over 65 suffer from osteoarthritis (OA). Along with age, obesity is the primary risk factor for developing OA.  Affliction of both knee joints is the type of OA most commonly found in overweight people.

How Does Being Overweight Affect Your Joints?

Overweight and obesity affect your joints in two ways.

1. Mechanical force upon a joint

Because excess weight exerts unnatural pressure upon the knee joints, the cartilage is damaged and OA ensues.  Mechanical force is most severe upon the knees and to a lesser extent, upon the hips.

2. Circulatory factors

Weight loss and OsteoarthritisHand joints are not subjected to excess pressure from being overweight and yet, according to studies [1], obese persons are at increased risk for the development of osteoarthritis of the hand.  This would imply a systemic factor that affects all joints regardless of the mechanical force they are subject to.  Scientists have zeroed in on adipose (fatty) tissue as the culprit.

Adipose cells secrete pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as the peptide TNF-alpha (tumor necrosis factor.)  As part of its job in regulating immune cells, this substance initiates systemic inflammation.  Elevated levels of the peptide may account for the chronic inflammation that plagues obese individuals.  It is believed that sustained systemic inflammation may have a degrading effect on articular cartilage, which results in OA of non-weight-bearing joints.

Can Weight Reduction Alleviate OA Symptoms?

A meta-analysis of prior OA studies was conducted in Denmark in 2007 [2].  The aim of the review study was to determine whether weight reduction of overweight patients would result in pain relief and improved functionality. The data collected from previous RCT’s (randomized controlled trials) was analyzed extensively.  The resultant finding was that a standard weight reduction regimen translated into improved functionality and pain relief for overweight people suffering from OA.

A 10% reduction in total body weight is the goal that obesity specialists recommend for obese and overweight patients.  However, the meta-analysis study discovered that relief from symptoms begins with as little as a 5% reduction of excess weight.

To help achieve those targets, an effective weight loss program such as Nutrisystem and Medifast may be required, as demonstrated by The Parker Institute study conducted in Denmark [3].  Christensen and his group assessed the effect of weight loss, by means of a low energy diet, on the function of obese, knee OA patients. They evaluated the symptoms of OA before and after weight loss, as reported by the patients using a questionnaire that addressed the severity of joint pain, stiffness and limitation of physical function. The investigators noticed that there was a 10% improvement in perceived OA symptoms for each percent of body fat reduced!

Can Weight Reduction Prevent The Onset of OA?

This question was answered by the Framingham study. Health information was collected from 1420 subjects for several decades in Framingham, England.  Data was analyzed to understand how weight loss might prevent OA.

For men and women, obesity is a condition that is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of greater than 30; overweight is defined as a BMI between 26 and 29.9; and normal weight is defined as a BMI under 26.  Using these standard definitions, researchers published these findings:

When obese men lost enough weight to move into the overweight category; and when overweight men lost enough weight to move into the normal category; then the chances of the study subjects developing knee OA were reduced by 21.4%.  If obese men lost sufficient weight to become part of the normal weight category, then the reduction of knee OA would be much greater.

For women following a parallel trajectory of weight reduction, the prevention of knee OA was even more significant:  33%.

The study also showed that being obese early in life increases the risk of developing OA in later life.

Summary

While it is readily apparent how mechanical stress caused by excess weight destroys cartilage resulting in knee and hip OA, scientists are now investigating how circulatory factors produced by adipose tissue, can result in deterioration of non-weight-bearing joints.

Unlike other causes of OA, obesity is a modifiable risk factor.  For young people, it is important to maintain normal weight levels in order to avoid OA later in life.  Apart from invasive arthroplasty – the surgical replacement of the joint – weight loss has been found to be the single most effective method for alleviating the suffering caused by osteoarthritis in obese individuals.

—-
About The Author
With a keen interest in obesity and related diseases, such as OA, Dick French, PhD, writes articles based on recent peer-reviewed publications. He presents information about popular weight loss programs in his blog, where he also offers a BistroMD coupon and a savings coupon for Nutrisystem diet, two proven weight management programs.

References
1. Hand osteoarthritis in Chuvashian population: prevalence and determinants. Kalichman L, Kobyliansky E. Rheumatol Int. 2009 Apr 9.

2. Ann Rheum Dis. 2007 Apr;66(4):433-9. Epub 2007 Jan 4. Effect of weight reduction in obese patients diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Christensen R, et al.

3. Weight loss: the treatment of choice for knee osteoarthritis? A randomized trial. Christensen R, Astrup A, Bliddal H. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2005 Jan;13(1):20-7.

12 Most Common Weight Loss Mistakes – And How to Avoid Them

Are you trying to lose weight, but feel like the harder you work at it the less you lose? Do you wonder if the workouts you’re doing to try to increase your full body strength (including strengthening those hard to tone abdominal muscles) are for nothing because you can’t get the results you desire no matter what you do?

Recent research findings suggest that if you’re struggling to lose weight and get into shape, it may not be your fault. The Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, Australia discovered that when a person tries to limit their caloric intake, their body goes into what is called “starvation mode”.

You see, when our ancestors long ago weren’t getting enough to eat due to famine, their body released a chemical called Neuropeptide, which increased their hunger. Doing so meant that they were more likely to go in search of the food they needed to survive any spell where nutrition was scarce.

However, today food is readily available to us. That means that when we try to restrict our caloric intake by dieting, our body thinks we’re going into a famine and releases this very same chemical which makes us just want to eat. And eat. And eat.

The result is weight gain, even though what you’re trying to do is exactly the opposite. How frustrating it can be when you’re trying to do good for your body and it is fighting your every effort.

The good news is that there are other factors that affect your ability to lose weight that you have more control over. In fact, here are twelve of the most common mistakes that people make and what you can do to avoid them:

1. You Don’t Have a Goal. You have to know what it is that you’re trying to achieve. What is the end goal that you desire to reach?

Be as specific as possible. Are you trying to lose a certain number of pounds or fit into a specific clothing size? The more you know about what your finish line looks like, the more likely you are to reach that destination.

2. You Don’t Have a Plan. You can have the best goal in the world, but it isn’t going to mean anything if you have no idea what you’re going to do to achieve it. Create a timeline between where you are now and when you want to hit your goal. Then decide what changes you need to make and when you’ll implement them.

For example, if your goal is to strengthen your abdominal muscles to the point where you have a six pack, you’re going to want to create a plan by deciding how many workout sessions you need weekly and what exercises you’re going to need to do.

3. You Lack Motivation. Usually, motivation is there in the beginning, but it quickly slithers away into the night when the reality kicks in that losing weight isn’t going to be easy. So, to keep your drive and enthusiasm up, you have to fully understand why you want to lose weight.

Is it that you want to get healthier? Maybe playing with your kids would be easier if you weighed less? Come up with a list of all the positive benefits that you associate with weight loss so you can refer to it when you feel your resolve start to weaken.

4. You’re Not Focused. Because losing weight usually involves making major changes, it requires that you stay focused on the task at hand. Let your mind wander and you won’t get the results you want.

One way to do this is to keep your goal in front of you at all times. Write it in a place that you look at often or create a vision board that is full of pictures that represent the changes you want to see. The more focus you have, the less likely it is that you will stray into not-so-good for you behaviors.

5. You Don’t Take Action. As the old quote says, “Wishing doesn’t make it so.” If you want to see changes, you’re going to have to do something to get them. You can’t just sit and wait for them to arrive because they aren’t going to.

For instance, if you want to increase your full body strength, you’re going to have to lift weights or do some form of body resistance exercises. That’s the only way that your muscles are going to grow bigger and stronger.

6. You Don’t Want It Bad Enough. You may try to argue that you want it really bad, but think about it honestly for a minute or two. In what ways does being overweight benefit you?

Does it keep you from getting attention that makes you uncomfortable? Perhaps it gives you an excuse for failing? Figure out how your weight is making life easier for you and you may unlock the key to future weight loss.

7. You’re a Couch Potato. Very few people actually like to exercise. In fact, most if given the option would prefer to do anything but, however those who exercise regularly know that they have to keep it up if they want to reach and maintain a healthy weight.

So, even though you would prefer the couch to a treadmill, being healthy sometimes involves doing things we don’t want to do so you need to just deal with it. Crazy as it seems, you may actually end up liking the way it makes you feel enough to look forward to doing it.

8. You Don’t Know How to Make it Happen. If you have no idea what it takes to lose weight and get in shape, it only goes to reason that you’re not going to hit your goals very easily. You have to know certain information, such as which foods to eat and what exercises are beneficial, if you’re going to succeed with weight loss.

Luckily we live in the information age. With the internet at your fingertips, you can finds all sorts of great information. Just stick with reputable sites, such as Health & Fitness Sports Magazine and WebMD so you don’t get thrown off course.

Of course, you could always hire a fitness trainer or nutritionist. These experts can help you create a program designed specifically for you and your needs.

9. You’re Not Following Through. Are you a starter and not a finisher? Do you typically begin a diet or weight loss program just to end it within a day or two and return to your old habits?

Weight loss isn’t something you just “do”. It is a process. It involves being present from beginning to end. You already set a goal, created a plan and came up with all the reasons you want to do this. Now make it happen.

10. You Don’t Believe You Can Change your Bad Habits. If you truly think that you’re going to fail because you have all of these behaviors that defeat weight loss, then you’re right. You aren’t going to succeed if you don’t believe that it’s a possibility.

You have to have faith in yourself that you’re capable of doing whatever you set out to do. Sure, it probably won’t be easy, but as long as you continue to move in the right direction, victory will be yours.

11. You Think That Changes Are Only Temporary. That’s the bad thing about a diet. It implies that you only have to do it short term and once you’ve hit your goal you can return to your old way of living.

Here’s one thing to remember: Temporary changes equal temporary results. If you want to maintain your weight loss for a lifetime, then you’re going to have to make lifetime changes. To believe anything else will just stop you from achieving your goal.

12. You Aren’t Fully Committed. If you tell yourself that you’ll “try” to lose weight, then you aren’t committed enough to the cause. You’re giving yourself an out, an okay to fail.

Instead of saying that you’ll “try” to shed some pounds, say that you “will”. Using a strong action word such as that tells your mind that it will accept nothing less than success, so that is what you’ll get.

Weight loss isn’t easy, but neither is being overweight. The choice is yours as to which one you’re willing to live with.

12 High Protein Snacks that Will Increase Your Energy Dramatically

Protein is not only beneficial to your muscles in helping them grow big and strong, but it is absolutely mandatory for raising your energy levels and keeping them elevated. Don’t get enough of this key substance and you’re left feeling tired and drained, barely able to make it through your day.

Also, when you eat a healthy amount of protein, which ranges somewhere between 10-35% of your daily caloric intake (roughly 45 grams for women and 55 grams for men), you won’t be as hungry as often. Protein fills you up and keeps your hunger satisfied for longer periods of time, leaving you less susceptible to those pesky hunger pangs that can help you make bad food choices.

Luckily, you don’t have to deal with being lethargic, hungry and irritable because protein is one of the easiest nutrients to consume. In fact, here are twelve high protein snacks you can easily incorporate into your diet today to start feeling more energy almost instantly:

1. Eggs

One large egg has approximately six grams of protein, so eat these protein powerhouses a couple of times a week and you’ll dramatically increase your intake of this very important nutrient. There has been a lot of concern about the amount of cholesterol in egg yolks which hinders a lot of people from choosing this food as a regular addition to their diet.

However, research has shown that the cholesterol in eggs has little, if any, effect on blood cholesterol levels unless you already have high cholesterol or carry some of the major risk factors. Regardless, if you’re still unsure, you can always just choose to eat them in limited portions.

Of course, you should always consume cooked eggs so as not to risk salmonella poisoning. You can scramble one or two up for a satisfying, high protein snack. You could also hard boil them, making them easy to grab and go.

2. Nuts

Almonds have around eight grams of protein in a quarter cup serving; whereas cashews and sunflower seeds are closer to six. Just one serving a day of any of these will get you a good portion of your recommended amount of protein and satisfy your hunger and taste buds at the same time.

One word of caution when it comes to nuts is that they’re relatively easy to overeat. To avoid consuming too many and taking in a lot of unnecessary calories, portion them out ahead of time. Also, choose ones that are salt free so you don’t get too much sodium in your diet, causing you to bloat and counteract the energy that you’re trying to find.

3. Peanut Butter

Just two tablespoons of this salty treat also provides eight grams of protein. And, it’s easy to take on the run. You can keep a jar of it right at your office or even in your purse if you wish. They also sell it in individual serving containers for this specific purpose.

You can eat it plain or dip some celery in it for some added crunch. Spread it on an English muffin or a piece of whole wheat toast for some extra carbs to get you through the next couple of hours with energy to spare.

Some people make their own by buying the powder and mixing it with oil. You may save a couple of calories by doing this, but it all depends on whether your palate likes the different texture.

4. Jerky

Talk about convenience, jerky is one of the easiest high protein snacks to find. Most convenience stores sell it, making it one of those foods that is readily available even if you didn’t plan as well as you should have. And, you can find everything from beef to chicken to pork jerky and more, so you have a lot of options from which to choose.

If you have some time on your hands, you can even make your own jerky. Just cut up some meats of choice, marinade them in whatever sauce tempts your taste buds (maybe teriyaki or something spicy hot) and then cook them in the oven at 200-250 degrees until the meat is dry and chewy. It takes quite a few hours and a lot of effort to make, but nothing beats the flavor of homemade jerky.

5. Cheese

The harder the cheese, the higher the protein. For example, mozzarella has six ounces of protein per serving, cheddar has 7-8 and parmesan contains approximately 10 grams per ounce.

Just as with the nuts, cheese is very easy to overeat. So, you’ll likely want to be diligent with your portion control. One great option is to buy the stringed cheese that comes in individual serving sizes. You can’t go wrong there.

6. Greek Yogurt

As far as yogurts go, Greek is definitely the highest. Each brand differs as to how much protein it contains, but as long as you choose this kind over “regular” yogurt, you’ll get the energy and hunger control that comes right along with it.

Besides, it’s quick and easy to grab a container from the fridge when you’re feeling ready to eat and need a snack. You can even add some fresh fruit if you want something with a little more sustenance.

7. Cottage Cheese

A one-half cup serving of cottage cheese packs a whopping fifteen grams of protein! That’s like eating two eggs or half of a cup of nuts. Talk about protein power!

It’s great by itself or you can put it atop a baked potato for a snack that is extremely satisfying. Or, add some berries with it and just keep it a light snack that will stop your hunger and hold you over until dinner.

8. Tuna

One can of tuna supplies almost all of the protein your body needs in a day (roughly, 40 grams). That takes this protein heads above the rest when it comes to giving your body a shot of get up and go when it needs it.

You can mix it with a little bit of low-fat dressing and put it on top of a couple of wheat crackers, or just make yourself half a sandwich on whole wheat to satisfy your growling belly. You can also put a little mustard with it and just eat it out of the can if you don’t feel like messing with anything else.

9. Salmon

Each three ounce filet of salmon has around 22 grams of energy providing protein. Not only that, but it also contains omega-3 fatty acids which are good for you as well.

Buy it in a can for a snack that is easy to prepare or fry up some filets on the weekend so you can easily grab them throughout the week when you’re busy and have less time to cook. You can throw them on top of a bed of greens with some light dressing for a nice snack sized salad to eat in between meals.

10. Oatmeal

If you like the idea of snack that is warm and comforting but still good for your energy levels, then oatmeal should be on your list. One cup contains around six grams of protein, making it a good food to keep your tummy satisfied, especially on those cold winter days.

There are several instant oatmeal options that you can purchase and have ready to eat in 1-2 minutes. Just be sure that you buy one that doesn’t contain so much sugar that you’re defeating the purpose.

11. Protein Bars

When you’re in a time crunch or miss a meal and don’t have access to a kitchen or other healthy fare, protein bars are a great alternative. They’re quick, easy and you can get them almost anywhere.

Aim for ones that have 5-6 grams of protein and are under 200 calories each. And, just like the oatmeal, be aware of the sugar they contain. Some protein bars are nothing more than glorified candy bars.

12. Protein Shakes

Protein shakes are also great in a pinch. Just add the mix, milk or water, ice and possibly some fresh fruit in a blender and you have a healthy, nutritious shake that won’t weigh you down. In fact, if you belong to a gym, a lot of them sell shakes already made so you can have all the pleasure with none of the work.

If you want extra protein, add some peanut butter to it. Or, if you want it a little thicker, some Greek yogurt will do the trick. See what combinations you come up with.

Increase the amount of protein you eat at snack time and you’ll have more energy than you know what to do with. These snack ideas should help you do just that.