Med Diet Decreases Inflammation, Increases Mobility in Osteoarthritis Sufferers

A Mediterranean diet decreases weight, inflammation and cartilage degradation in osteoarthritis sufferers.

By Jedha Dening
Oct. 20, 2016 07:10 UTC

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most com­mon form of arthri­tis. According to the CDC, from 2008 – 2011 an esti­mated 30.8 mil­lion adults suf­fered from OA in the United States, and by 2040 it is esti­mated there will be 78 mil­lion arthri­tis suf­fer­ers. Sixty-two per­cent of adults with arthri­tis are under 65 years of age, 1 in 2 peo­ple develop OA by age 85 years, 2 in 3 obese peo­ple develop symp­to­matic knee OA, and 1 in 4 develop painful hip arthri­tis by age 85 years.
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Initially, the symp­toms of OA can be man­aged with a vari­ety of lifestyle and dietary mea­sures. However, in time OA can cause lim­ited mobil­ity and affect the qual­ity of life of suf­fer­ers. Typical patients rely on phar­ma­co­log­i­cal treat­ments such as non-steroidal anti-inflam­ma­tory drugs (NSAIDs) and anal­gesics to help alle­vi­ate the pain and dis­com­fort.

However, though help­ful, these inter­ven­tions are only short term and don’t pro­vide any pre­ven­tion for the pro­gres­sion of OA. Additionally, using these inter­ven­tions over the long term can have com­pli­ca­tions and side effects. A recent study, pub­lished in the Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging, reveals for the first time that con­sum­ing a Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) may be of ben­e­fit to OA suf­fer­ers, not just in man­age­ment but in pre­ven­tion.

The study ran­dom­ized 124 par­tic­i­pants with a clin­i­cal diag­no­sis of OA to either a MedDiet or con­trol diet for 16 weeks. The researchers sought to mea­sure per­cep­tual, func­tional and serum bio­mark­ers in sub­jects with OA.” Range of motion of the knee, hips and index fin­gers were tested before the inter­ven­tion, along with mea­sure­ments of body mass and blood sam­ples for mea­sur­ing serum car­ti­lage oligomeric matrix pro­tein (sCOMP) — a marker of car­ti­lage degra­da­tion. The MediDiet group fol­lowed a typ­i­cal MedDiet abun­dant in veg­eta­bles, fruits, beans, whole grains, olive oil and fish.” They also received tele­phone sup­port and guid­ance on their diet and lifestyle. The con­trol group received no diet or lifestyle advice.

Thirty out of the fifty par­tic­i­pants in the MedDiet group showed high com­pli­ance to the dietary inter­ven­tion. Compared to the con­trol group, the MedDiet group lost an aver­age 1.5 kg, the con­trol group show­ing no change. The proin­flam­ma­tory mol­e­cule IL-1a decreased in the MedDiet group. This mol­e­cule is known to influ­ence the pro­gres­sion of OA, so this is a unique find­ing. Compared to the con­trol group, the MedDiet group saw larger changes in all range of motion tests, though the out­comes con­sid­ered most sig­nif­i­cant were improve­ments in knee flex­ion and hip rota­tion, which may indi­cate a func­tional ben­e­fit for par­tic­i­pants.

Further to this, the authors con­clude the aver­age reduc­tion in sCOMP in the DIET group (1 U/L) rep­re­sents a mean­ing­ful change,” as this mea­sure­ment indi­cates that the MedDiet may be ben­e­fi­cial in pre­vent­ing the pro­gres­sion of OA through decreas­ing car­ti­lage degra­da­tion.

However, the authors sug­gest that at this stage, being the only study of its kind, more inter­ven­tions will be needed for longer dura­tions to eval­u­ate if these ben­e­fits are con­sis­tent and fur­ther enhanced with the length of time.


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