Lower Your Risk Of Rheumatoid Arthritis With These 5 Basic Habits
It's estimated that 1.5 million1 Americans live with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune and inflammatory disease that affects the joints and other parts of the body. To help bring this number down, early-stage research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition set out to find evidence of healthy lifestyle factors that may help prevent the disease.
Factors that help reduce RA risk
The authors of this recent study2 looked at UK Biobank data from nearly 90,000 people to identify the "metabolic signature" of a healthy lifestyle that reduced one's risk of developing RA. Researchers observed a significant reduction in RA risk when the following healthy lifestyle measures were present:
- Follow a healthy diet.
- Exercise regularly.
- Don't smoke.
- Stick to moderate alcohol consumption.
- Have a normal body mass index.
Their findings serve as strong evidence that living a healthy lifestyle can help reduce the risk of developing RA. This was an early-stage study that needs further validation, but it's both a promising step in the right direction and yet another vote for making healthy lifestyle choices.
While the link between healthy living and disease prevention is not surprising, clinical data, especially evidence of causation, helps paint a clearer picture that can help health care practitioners reinforce the importance of healthy choices for people of all ages.
Put it into practice
So, what does this new evidence mean for you and me? Well, you're likely already focusing on at least a handful of these healthy lifestyle factors. But if not, now's a great time to start. Here are a few ideas to help get you started:
Follow a healthy diet. Focusing on a diet rich in fresh produce, healthy fats, and plenty of protein can help ensure you're getting the nutrition you need to support full-body health. Although moderation and flexibility are important, here are a few research-backed diets that have been associated with increased health span and life span. To further fight inflammation, consider taking a well-vetted supplement that contains anti-inflammatory ingredients like turmeric, which is packed with antioxidants that can assist joint comfort, mood support, and more. Here are a few science-backed supplements your joints will love.
Exercise regularly. Exercise can be tough to fit in. The good news? You don't need a fancy gym membership to get started. At-home workouts and walking can be more than enough to get the job done.
Don't smoke. This one is pretty simple. You've heard it before—don't smoke!
If you consume alcohol, do so in moderation. This one is also pretty simple. Practicing moderation is important for those who drink. Try swapping some of your usual drinks for a tasty nonalcoholic mocktail to support your health.
Maintain a normal body mass index. Maintaining a healthy weight can certainly be a challenge. While body mass index (BMI) is by no means a perfect metric, it's important to speak with your doctor about what a healthy weight looks like for you, as well as the healthiest way to get and stay there.
Although there's no cure for RA, early detection and treatment can help people manage their symptoms and pain. The preventive indicators found may also translate to future treatment options.
New research strongly suggests that following a healthy lifestyle can help reduce your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Experts will continue to study exactly what this means, but for now, you can rest assured that the tried-and-true healthy living pillars are helping you in more ways than one, including reducing your risk of RA.
Jenny is a San Francisco-based mbg health contributor, content designer, and climate & sustainability communications specialist. She is a graduate of the University of California Santa Barbara. An avid open-water swimmer, Jenny has worked for healthy living and nutrition brands like Sun Basket, Gather Around Nutrition, and Territory Foods.