Approximately 27 million Americans suffer with the debilitating pain of osteoarthritis. Also referred to as degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis is often viewed as the “wear and tear” arthritis, which seems to suggest that it’s inevitable. But there are things you can do to help prevent developing osteoarthritis.

Exercise Safely to Prevent Osteoarthritis

It’s not news that exercise can help prevent osteoarthritis. In a study of pre- and post-industrial age cadavers, researchers discovered that the causes of osteoarthritis are “multifactorial,” but at the top of the list was sedentary lifestyles. The researcher concluded that physical activity causes synovial fluids to diffuse through the joint, providing needed nutrition. At the same time, researchers pointed to injury as a cause of future osteoarthritis. As the researchers pointed out, activities that our bodies have not evolved to participate in, such as skiing or CrossFit, can lead to injury, which contributes to developing arthritis. So, while exercise can help prevent osteoarthritis, make sure to keep it safe within defined parameters.

Manage Blood Sugar Levels

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of all diabetes patients also suffer from arthritis. Such high numbers suggest a relationship between the two. In a process called glycation, sugar in your blood bonds with proteins to form compounds that causes changes throughout the body, including in joints where they can make joints more susceptible to damage and osteoarthritis. Keeping your blood sugar in healthy ranges, especially if you are already diabetic or pre-diabetic, will help slow down the process.

Lose Weight

This is another area that obvious. Excess weight causes more wear and tear on your joints, speeding up the process of developing osteoarthritis. But the dangers go beyond just the pounds. In a study out of Duke University, researchers claimed that fat secretes adipokines—the same proteins that osteoarthritis researchers study. In other words, just the presence of fat may be contributing to the development of osteoarthritis.

Practice Good Nutrition

If you didn’t already have enough reason to eat healthy, preventing osteoarthritis should be added to your list. A review of research came up with a list of recommendations when it comes to nutrition and preventing osteoarthritis. Their list included reducing plasma cholesterol by dietary means, increasing fatty acids by eating oily fish twice a week; increasing vitamin D levels through safe sun exposure or supplements, and increasing vitamin K intake by eating green leafy vegetables.

Stay Hydrated

Your body uses water for so many things that can help prevent osteoarthritis. First, water is a major component of your body in general, but specifically cartilage, which is 80% water. Water is also a major ingredient in synovial fluid. When you are dehydrated, your cartilage starts to dry out, which increases friction and damage. Water is also used to carry out waste materials, which can help lower inflammation. Even more interesting, a study from Massey University in New Zealand found that being dehydrated actually increases your perception of pain.

With these five aspects, you may not be able to avoid osteoarthritis, but you can help to ensure this does not take over your life!