Many patients ask me for advice regarding the right food choices for osteoarthritis. It is widely known that dietary and lifestyle factors can have a large impact on the management of arthritis. For example, the knee has to absorb the shock of four times your body weight with every step; therefore, weight control is vital. While AposTherapy® allows patients to be more active, and exercise more in order to lose weight, it is also important to recognise the dietary components that can improve symptoms or potentially slow the progression of the disease.
Ameye et al (2006) conducted a systematic review, examining the scientific evidence for osteoarthritis and nutrition. Fifty-three randomised control trials were found and overall it was concluded that some specific nutritional interventions (such as avocado and soybean) could provide symptom relief to osteoarthritic patients. However, it remains to be seen whether nutritional compounds can actually rebuild cartilage.
Becky Hand, a registered dietician, and Nicole Nichols, a health educator, wrote an article providing advice on foods and nutrients that fight osteoarthritis:
- Vitamin C is involved in the formation of both collagen and proteoglycans (components of cartilage that cushions the joint); it is also an antioxidant that helps counteract the effects of free radicals in the body, which can damage cartilage.
- Vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption and bone structure. Reduced vitamin D intake appears to increase cartilage loss and the risk of OA progressing (McAlindon et al, 1996).
- Omega 3 fatty acids found in cold-water fish, soy foods and flaxseeds (among others) suppress inflammation, while omega 6 fatty acids promote inflammation that can lead to increased pain and stiffness.
The effect of pH Balance on chronic disease has also been considered. A relatively acidic diet is thought to put our bodies under stress, affecting skin, digestion, and long-term health. Increased acidity puts the body into survival mode triggering short-term measures to maintain blood pH strictly at 7.35 -7.45. Unfortunately, this short term survival strategy may damage long term health. One of its possible effects can be depleting calcium and magnesium stores have been linked to osteoporosis, muscle cramps and high blood pressure. Alkaline foods include most fruit and green vegetables, peas, beans and seeds, but it’s important to note some acidic foods are still useful and important in our diet. There is no evidence however to support such a diet and its effects on osteoarthritis.
In summary, many diets claim to have a beneficial effect on osteoarthritis; however, evidence-based research to prove this is limited. Even so, patients should know their own unique needs and limitation when it comes to certain food substances, e.g. one of my patients has to avoid tomatoes, while another takes cider-vinegar daily. Like many treatments for osteoarthritis, certain diets will work better for some people than others.
At AposTherapy®, we provide a functional treatment that allows you to maximise your walking and functional capabilities. Increasing the ability to move about controls your weight and reduces the loads going through your lower limb joints, which in turn provides further pain relief and significantly enhances quality of life.