Osteoarthritis and type 2 diabetes. Go above your ideal weight, and your lower-body joints feel the burden. As the scale creeps upward, your organs become burdened, too. The pancreas increasingly produces more insulin to deal with excess sugar, eventually becoming exhausted and ineffective. The heart and blood vessels become stressed as they strain to pump blood through a larger body mass and deal with the inflammatory chemicals being churned out by fat cells.

“Type 2 diabetes is [largely] a disease of people who are overweight or obese, and overweight and obesity are big risk factors for knee and hip OA,” says David Felson, MD, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at Boston University School of Medicine.

The first-line fix for both conditions? Lose weight, which, Dr. Felson says, will improve each one. Modest weight loss will alleviate pressure from the lower extremities, helping to ease pain in the hips, knees and feet. Losing just 15 pounds can cut knee pain in half. And losing just 5 percent to 10 percent of body weight will reduce blood sugar significantly and can enable some people to taper off insulin and other medications.  

Take Good Care of Yourself

Eat regularly and consistently to help your body maintain steady blood glucose levels. Doing so keeps the body from releasing too much insulin, which is known to make weight loss (and fat loss) difficult. Try to eat the same amount of food during meals or snacks at the same times every day, and, of course, choose your foods wisely. Consume some protein and healthy fats, along with whole-grain carbohydrates and nonstarchy vegetables, at each meal, and keep portions small: Eating too much at once causes blood sugar to spike.

Then, make sure you engage in about 30 minutes of physical activity on as many days of the week as possible to help keep your weight down, your joints lubed and your blood sugar normal, not to mention to decrease your risk of heart disease – a top health risk associated with both arthritis and diabetes.