How to Prevent Osteoarthritis With a Healthy Diet

It may not be great for your breath, but according to researchers at King's College, in London, a diet rich in garlic, onions and leeks could reduce your risk of developing the most common form of arthritis. According to the findings of the study, women who ate a lot of allium vegetables (those in the garlic family) had significantly lower incidence of hip osteoarthritis (OA). Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in adults. One in two Americans will get some form of OA in their lifetime or 27 million adults. Women are more likely to develop it than men. OA is a painful joint disease that can place severe limits on daily activity and the quality of life. OA, which is the most common form of arthritis, often causes weakness and disability, interferes with peoples ability to work, and results in costly joint replacements. This was the first study to look deeply into how diet could affect the development and prevention of OA. The study, funded by Arthritis Research Britain, looked at over 1,000 healthy female twins, many of whom had no symptoms of arthritis. The team of researchers collected a detailed diary of the diet patterns of the twins and then analyzed them alongside x-ray images which revealed the development of early OA in the subjects hips, knees and spine.
What they discovered was that those subjects who ate a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetable, particularly alliums, had significantly less appearance of early osteoarthritis in their x-rays -- particularly in the hip joint. Next, the researchers studied the compounds found in garlic. They found that a compound called diallyl disulphide limits the amount of cartilage-damaging enzymes when introduced to a human cartilage cell-line in the laboratory. These findings could possibly point the medical community in the direction of future treatments or prevention of hip osteoarthritis. In the meantime, evidence shows that excessive weight may influence symptoms of certain types of arthritis and related conditions. A good guideline is to watch your weight and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, as well as fish high in Omega-3s and nuts like walnuts and pumpkin seeds.Inflammatory FoodsLoading up on junk foods and fast foods tend to make you feel worse due to the unhealthy fats that are used in the cooking processes. Junk foods also usually contain ingredients that can irritate inflammation. Red meat, eggs, and wheat products all contain something called arachidonic acid. While some arachidonic acid is essential for your health, too much arachidonic acid in the diet will make your inflammation worse. Junk and processed foods often contain too much sugar too. Anecdotal evidence suggests that excessive consumption of sugars and refined starchy carbohydrates like white flour can also aggravate inflammation. Another possible source of irritation are plants from the nightshade family.

Nightshade Plants

While whole fruits and vegetables are important for their vitamins, minerals, and natural antioxidants, some vegetables like potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplant may actually make inflammation worse. These vegetables are part of the nightshade family of plants and contain a chemical alkaloid called solanine. Solanine can trigger inflammation in some people and nightshade plants should be avoided to see if your pain and inflammation improves.

Robin Westen is ThirdAges medical reporter. Check her daily updates. She is the author of Ten Days to Detox: How to Look and Feel a Decade Younger.

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