ALLEVIATION of the pain experienced by patients with osteoarthritis (OA) could be achieved through a combination of dietary and lifestyle changes, based on the results of a recent meta-analysis undertaken by researchers from the University of Surrey, Guildford, UK. Currently, there is no known cure for OA, patients have to rely on painkillers to manage their symptoms. Therefore, with predictions suggesting around 130 million people will have been diagnosed with OA by 2050, any kernel of insight into managing this condition is pertinent.
This meta-analysis included 68 previous studies and resulted in several findings related to diet and lifestyle. Prof Margaret Rayman, University of Surrey, provided an overview of the study’s findings, noting: “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 learnt from this study, it can also lessen painful symptoms of OA.” While there was no evidence to support the benefits of a low-calorie diet in lean patients with OA, it was shown that this diet, alongside exercises to improve strength, flexibility, and aerobic capacity, was effective in pain alleviation for patients who were overweight. One of the benefits of reducing weight is that the stain on joints induced by obesity can be alleviated; furthermore, it can lead to low-grade systemic inflammation that further aggravates OA.
In regard to diet, it was shown that a dietary fish oil supplements were associated with an improvement in cardiovascular health and reductions in the pain experienced by patients with OA. The mechanism behind this associated pain reduction is that essential fatty acids in fish oil cause a lessening of joint inflammation, which mitigates the pain felt by patients. A further dietary change that was shown to be of benefit was increasing dietary intake of vitamin K-rich foods; such foods include kale, spinach, and parsley.
Summarising the key take-home message of this research, Prof Ali Mobasheri, University of Surrey, announced: “A combination of good diet and regular exercise are necessary to keep joints healthy; you cannot have healthy joints with just one, you need both.”