Diet and Osteoarthritis
We see many patients during the winter months for joint pain due to osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a natural part of ageing and is literally due to ‘wear and repair’ - as the joint shows signs of wear, the body tries to repair itself insufficiently.
Whereas a previous injury could become problematic when you get older there is also the type of osteoarthritis that appears to affect multiple joints. It has been assumed in the past that this was due to mechanical stress on the joint due to increased body weight. This has been a widely accepted hypothesis but the fact that the osteoarthritis was also present in non weight bearing joints, such as the fingers, never really fitted completely into this idea.
According to recent studies, this may be due to high cholesterol levels inducing mitochondrial oxidative stress on cartilage cells. Basically, high levels of cholesterol may cause cartilage cells in the joint to die and this cell death leads to degenerative changes - or osteoarthritis.
It may be that as the weather cools down, we are staying in more and eating poor food choices whilst watching the television. These are poor choices so far as cholesterol is concerned. If cholesterol is a result of genetics and diet, we can do little to change or genes but our diet choices are another matter. The Mediterranean diet is a good choice for overall health as it is focused around fresh vegetables, fruit, healthy oils and fish. Processed foods are not good food choices. It is also a good idea not to drink alcohol every day!
There is no cure for osteoarthritis but there are changes you can make to reduce the symptoms:
Eat a Mediterranean diet Reduce your weight by 10% Don't smoke Do not drink every day (3 units a week is OK) Do exercise
Combined it sounds like a massive task but small changes can lead to significant improvements over time.