Osteoarthritis (OA) is a condition which affects the whole joint, including the bone, cartilage, ligaments, and muscle and is the most common form of arthritis. Whilst it was previously described as ‘wear and tear’, it is now thought to be an inflammatory condition that is the result of a joint working hard to repair itself. OA can develop at any age but tends to be more common in people aged over 40 years or those who have had joint injuries.
OA is often confused with osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition where the bones become fragile and brittle, causing them to break more easily. The key difference between the two, is that OA affects the joints, whereas osteoporosis affects the bone.
Whilst there is currently no cure for OA, treatments to manage pain and symptoms of OA have been developed. Dietary interventions and strategies have been shown to be effective in managing OA symptoms. We have asked local leading dietitians from Eatsense to share their top nutrition tips for those suffering from Osteoarthritis.
Here are our top tips for eating well for OA by Eatsense dietitians.
1/ Aim to be YOUR healthiest weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is vital for managing OA. Whilst being overweight can increase the strain placed on joints, excess fat, particularly around the midsection and organs can cause inflammation which can exacerbate symptoms of OA. If you are overweight, studies show losing between 8-10% of your body weight will help reduce pain-associated inflammation and improve overall health. This can be done by eating a healthy diet including a variety of fruits and vegetables and incorporating exercise to help maintain muscle. OA has also been closely linked to type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease which are often associated with carrying excess body fat. Maintaining a healthy body weight can help prevent or manage these associated conditions.
2/ Aim for healthy blood cholesterol levels
Patients with OA are more likely to have raised blood cholesterol levels compared to those without OA. Some studies suggest that high cholesterol may place an additional stress on the cartilage between bones, contributing to OA. Therefore, lowering cholesterol levels may help improve OA and will also benefit your heart health.
Try these handy tips for lowering the level of bad cholesterol (LDL) in your body:
Include 2g per day of plant sterols per day which can be achieved by eating Cholesterol-Lowering Weetbix
Reducing your intake of foods high in saturated fat such as red and processed meats, chips, biscuits, cakes, ice-cream, cream, butter, coconut oil and deep-fried foods
Swap butter for extra-virgin olive oil
Include oily fish 2-3x/wk such as salmon, sardines, or tuna
Include 30g of unsalted raw nuts per day
Consuming soy protein (e.g. tofu, soy milk, soybeans)
Increasing your intake of soluble fibre from foods such as oats and legumes e.g. chickpeas, beans, lentils
Consume 25g of soy protein per day
3/ Increase your intake of Omega 3 fatty acids
Research shows that increasing your consumption of long-chain n-3 fatty-acids from food or supplements may improve pain and function in OA patients. Western diets have been associated with a number of inflammatory disorders such as OA, due to their high ratio of omega 6 fatty acids to omega 3 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids are typically found in vegetable and seed oils which are predominantly used in processed foods.
Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to promote bone formation and increase bone density and help prevent OA progression. Omega 3 fatty acids are found in oily fish and have anti-inflammatory properties that can benefit those suffering with OA. Aim for consuming oily fish, such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel at least 2-3 times per week.
If you choose to take a supplement, ranges between 2-3g per day have been shown to be effective for OA. Consult with your doctor or dietitian before commencing a supplement.
4/ Consume foods rich in vitamin K
Vitamin K is essential for making cartilage and bone and plays a role in maintaining strong bones. Whilst there is limited evidence, research suggests that increasing vitamin K for those who are suffering with OA and who are deficient in vitamin K, will be beneficial and may help with symptom management. Vitamin K is obtained through a healthy balanced diet and is found in green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli, and Brussel sprouts.
5/ Follow a Mediterranean-style diet
There is a positive association between a higher adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet and the quality of life of people suffering with OA due to its anti-inflammatory properties. A Mediterranean-style dietary pattern encourages:
A high consumption of fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains
Greater intakes of fish and seafood.
Moderate consumption of dairy products, poultry, and eggs.
Occasional consumption of meat and sweets
A Mediterranean-style diet is rich in polyphenols, fibre, monounsaturated fats, and omega-3 fatty acids which have an anti-inflammatory effect in the body and may help reduce inflammation and cartilage destruction. It also includes a wide range of antioxidants including vitamins A, C and E which may help reduce oxidative stress in the body which is associated with OA.
If you would like some help eating well for your OA, managing a medical condition, or simply boosting your health, book in a consult with an Accredited Practising Dietitian from Eatsense today by calling 43239100 or booking online at eatsense.com.au
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