Once considered a bit of a ‘wear and tear’ inflammatory disease of the joints as you age, evidence suggests otherwise. Multiple underlying causes and contributing factors include age, female gender and high BMI. Joints and particularly knees are affected where the protective cartilage cushion wears down leaving bones exposed to rub together. Medications are often the first form of treatment rather than looking at the root cause.
Research has focused on the high incidence of obesity and poor dietary choices as well as lack of exercise in OA patients. Obesity increases the load and stress on many joints and data reveals that fat tissue is a major source of catabolic and pro-inflammatory mediators (i.e., cytokines, chemokines, and adipokines), which are implicated in the process of OA (Rai 2011). In addition, obese patients tend to experience insulin resistance and increased glucose load, which may also contribute to the chronic inflammation and cartilage deterioration of OA (Sowers 2010).
A greater understanding of the biochemical nature of cartilage and bone and its formation and breakdown has highlighted the role of nutrition and lifestyle, and the significance of a healthy diet to impact metabolic balance, aging and wellbeing. The big question as to what exactly does a “healthy diet” look like if we are to slow down the onset of age-related diseases is the key.
Much of the tissue injury and symptoms of pain and stiffness is due to chemicals produced naturally in our bodies and generated by metabolism of the omega-6 fatty acids from dietary intake of processed foods and seed oils (soy, sunflower, safflower, canola, corn, peanut oils). Tissue injury in the joint may also be due to the lack of intake of anti-inflammatory omega-3 oils (fish, algae, borage, flaxseed, walnuts) and micronutrients such as flavonoids which act naturally to manage inflammation and help to protect against oxidative and other damaging effects to cartilage in joints.
Studies indicate that supplementing daily with glucosamine sulphate may offer effective, long-term treatment for osteoarthritis by slowing the progression of disease, delaying degeneration of the joint and reducing pain. It is not quite so clear if it is of benefit in RA although it may provide some pain relief.
These sugar amine molecules have been specifically studied for their potential to treat symptoms and disease progression associated with osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Hyaluronic acid is a potential bright spot for helping lower the side effects of osteoarthritis. Its effectiveness is due to the many methods of actions it deploys, including lubrication, anti-inflammatory and chondroprotective effects. Treatment can be done both orally and through intra-articular injections. New products are continuously being developed that change the composition of the molecule as well as pairing it with other drugs to maximize the effect. Hyaluronic acid treatment shows a lot of potential that will hopefully be discovered through continued research.
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) has become a popular dietary supplement used for a variety of purposes, including its most common use as an anti-inflammatory agent. It has been well-investigated in human clinical trials and experiments with evidence of a variety of health-specific outcome measures are improved with MSM supplementation, including inflammation, joint/muscle pain, oxidative stress, and antioxidant capacity. This micronutrient is well tolerated for arthritis and a number of other conditions related to inflammation, physical function, and performance.
Another dietary consideration is the lack of dietary micro-nutrients in modern diets which have shown to help the body naturally manage inflammation and oxidation. Flavonoids and polyphenols are found in berries, grapes, nuts and seeds, non-starchy vegetables, spices such as curcumin and soy.
Research identifies a number of dietary recommendations:
- lose weight, if overweight, preferably combined with exercise
- increase intake of flavonoids to reduce oxidative damage
- Supplement with glucosamine and chondroitin along with curcumin and essential fatty aid omega 3’s (EFA)
- In addition, choose a supplement with additional hyaluronic acid and MSM for a more targeted treatment
- reduce plasma cholesterol by dietary means
- increase intake of long-chain n-3 fatty acids preferably by eating oily fish, flaxseed oil and walnuts or taking a vegan EFA supplement
- aim for a safe level of sun exposure, eat rich vitamin-D dietary sources or take vitamin D supplements, 800IU/d or 10,000IU/wk
- increase vitamin K intake by eating green leafy vegetables
If you feel it’s time to make dietary changes but don’t know where to begin, do not hesitate to contact us at PicPax.com.