Osteoarthritis and diet: what foods to eat and avoid?

In osteoarthritis, the cartilage of the affected joint is gradually destroyed, resulting in stiffness and loss of mobility. Rheumatologists recommend taking anti-inflammatory drugs when the joint is too painful. An effective treatment, but which has only a temporary effect.

At present, the management of osteoarthritis is essentially based on healthy lifestyle advice in order to provide long-lasting relief to patients. I‘physical activityadapted to the physical abilities of each person, is one of the main recommendations.

I’foodmeanwhile, holds a more modest place due to a lack of scientific data.

“We have no evidence that an anti-inflammatory diet can play a role in osteoarthritis,” observes Dr. Jean-Michel Lecerf, head of the Nutrition and Physical Activity department at the Institut Pasteur de Lille.

Does losing weight reduce joint pain?

The only certainty is that it is very important to maintain a normal weight to protect your joints. Losing even 4 to 5 kilos is enough to relieve osteoarthritis. It is demonstrated in theknee osteoarthritis in particular, but also in theosteoarthritis of the hands. The effect is both mechanical (it is easily understood in the knee since the joint has less weight to support), but it is also physiological. In overweight people, adipose tissue secretes mediators that increase sensitivity to pain, as well as pro-inflammatory molecules that only aggravate joint damage.

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Should we favor the Mediterranean diet?

Some studies suggest that a diet following the principles of the Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of inflammatory rheumatism, such as rheumatoid arthritis. The mechanism would be both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. But the demonstration has not been made in osteoarthritis.

the mediterranean diet remains, however, widely recommended by doctors because it helps to maintain good health and proves cardiovascular protection. In practice, menus should give prominence to whole grains, fruit and vegetables, fish and olive oil. Conversely, we limit red meat, charcuterie and ready-made meals from industrial production.

Omega-3s: what anti-inflammatory efficacy in osteoarthritis?

Omega-3s are polyunsaturated fatty acids found in oily fish, but also in rapeseed oil or nuts.

Their nutritional value is recognized in cardiovascular prevention, against brain aging and depression. Their anti-inflammatory action could be interesting in osteoarthritis, “but we do not have evidence of efficacy on the clinical signs of the disease”, emphasizes Dr. Lecerf. For the general population, the National Health Nutrition Program recommends eat fish twice a week, including fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, sardines, anchovies, etc.) for its omega-3 intake.

Can we eat dairy products?

the milkthe yogurts and the cheese have a reputation for being pro-inflammatory. Nothing proves it but, in doubt, some patients with osteoarthritis prefer to avoid them. However, this is a miscalculation.

“Some studies show a beneficial effect of dairy products, in particular in gonarthrosis (osteoarthritis of the knee, editor’s note) with less progression of the disease”, underlines the doctor nutritionist.

Do probiotics help reduce inflammation?

According to a popular hypothesis, a dimbalance of the intestinal microbiota could promote inflammation in the body and, thus, aggravate the process of destruction of cartilage, characteristic of osteoarthritis. Hence the idea of ​​offering patients probiotic food supplements, with the aim of restoring their intestinal flora. But how effective are they?

Which probiotic strains should I recommend?

At present, no study has provided reliable answers to these questions. Dr. Lecerf does not, however, rule out the hypothesis of probiotics. “The microbiota definitely plays an important role in health. It may have a role in inflammation. But we have no data on osteoarthritis,” he explains. For him, the best probiotics remain yogurts, which is in line with the recommendations on the consumption of dairy products.

Does the gluten-free diet have an interest in osteoarthritis?

Like milk, the gluten found in some cereals (wheat, rye, etc.) arouses mistrust in some people with osteoarthritis. But there is no scientific argument to confirm that gluten food worsens joint pain. “Some people who are hypersensitive to gluten (without having celiac disease) complain of muscle symptoms. They can be improved when they stop gluten. But these symptoms are more akin to fibromyalgia. They are different from osteoarthritis,” emphasizes Dr. Lecerf.

the Seignalet diet recommends a diet without dairy or gluten to relieve painful joints. But, to date, no scientific study has proven its effectiveness.

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