Just like most diseases and health conditions, the right kind of diet and a good dose of exercise can help deal with osteoarthritis pain in a more effective manner. Researchers from the University of Surrey examined the link between diet and the effective self-management of osteoarthritis.
Method for study
Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent form of arthritis in the world with 18% of women and 9.6% of men aged 60 years and over being diagnosed with this painful condition. Analysing 68 previous studies in the field, researchers found that a low-dose supplement of fish oil (one and a half standard capsules) could result in pain reduction for patients with osteoarthritis and help improve their cardiovascular health. Essential fatty acids in fish oil reduce inflammation in joints, helping to alleviate pain.
Researchers also found that a reduction of weight for overweight and obese patients and the introduction of exercise tailored to mobility could also help ease the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Not only does obesity increase strain on joints, it can cause low-grade, systemic inflammation in the body aggravating the condition further.
Importance of diet and exercise
A calorie restricted diet, combined with strengthening, flexibility and aerobic exercises, was identified 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.
Ali Mobasheri, Professor of Musculoskeletal Physiology at the University of Surrey, said, “A combination of good diet and regular exercise are necessary to keep joints healthy; you can’t have healthy joints with just one, you need both.” And exercise can certainly help make knees stronger. According to Dr Aditya Khemka, consultant orthopedics at Hinduja Healthcare Surgical, “The analogy of the knee is similar to a building under construction, the building is as strong as the scaffolding and the scaffolding to the knee is provided by the muscles, hence the stronger the muscles the stronger the knee.”