Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent form of arthritis in the world with 18 percent of women and 9.6 percent of men aged 60 years and over being diagnosed with this painful condition.
By 2050 an estimated 130 million people will suffer from osteoarthritis placing a substantial burden on health services.
Currently, there is no effective treatment for this painful ailment, with only painkillers available to treat symptoms and no known cure.
In a recent study, researchers from the University of Surrey checked the link between diet and the self-management of osteoarthritis.
The team analyzed 68 previous studies in the field, and they found that a low-dose supplement of fish oil (one and a half standard capsules) could reduce pain for patients with osteoarthritis.
This is because essential fatty acids in fish oil reduce inflammation in joints, helping to alleviate pain.
In addition, the researchers found that weight loss and exercise in overweight and obese patients could help ease the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Not only does obesity increase strain on joints, but it can also cause low-grade, systemic inflammation in the body aggravating the condition further.
But a calorie restricted diet, combined with strengthening, flexibility and aerobic exercises, could work as an effective approach in reducing pain in overweight patients.
There is no evidence that a calorie-restricted diet does anything beneficial for lean patients with the condition.
Adopting a healthier lifestyle will also help reduce cholesterol levels in the blood – high blood cholesterol is known to be associated with osteoarthritis.
An increase in foods rich in vitamin K such as kale, spinach, and parsley was also found to deliver benefits to patients with osteoarthritis.
Vitamin K is needed for vitamin-K-dependent (VKD) proteins, which are found in bone and cartilage.
An inadequate intake of the vitamin adversely affects the working of the protein, affecting bone growth and repair and increasing the risk of osteoarthritis.
The researchers suggest that the importance of a good diet and regular exercise should never be underestimated.
Not only does it keep us fit and healthy, but as we have learned from this study, it can also lessen painful symptoms of osteoarthritis.
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Source: University of Surrey