Researchers at Duke University Medical Center have found that unhealthy dietary habits along with obesity can accelerate the degenerative process of osteoarthritis. The findings of the study were recently published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases and stated that ingestion of unhealthy dietary fats leads to the worsening of the osteo-arthritic joint condition.
Obesity is the primary cause of joint degeneration but the process is hastened by unhealthy eating habits. It was found that consumption of omega 3 fatty acids can protect joints in case of osteoarthritis. It does not revert osteoarthritic changes but helps in slowing the degenerative process. Omega 3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties and are good for the heart. Their routine consumption is considered helpful for patients. The Duke trial showed that omega 3 fatty acids (when given to mice) reduced the severity of the osteoarthitic joint pain. It was also shown that these mice had wounds that healed quickly as opposed to mice who did not receive the supplement. The Omega-3 supplement is easily found in fish and fish oil supplements.
Other mice were fed with high saturated fats and omega 6 fatty acids. Saturated fat comes from animal sources and omega 6 fatty acids come from corn oil, soya bean oil and nuts. Though they are healthy, they were not as effective as omega 3 fatty acids.
Another feature of omega 3 fatty acids was they eliminated the adverse side effects of obesity in obese mice. Increased weight eventually wears out the joint and hence causes osteoarthritis. Dr. Farshak Guilak, corresponding author, suggested that dietary factors are more important and harmful than the link between obesity and arthritis. It was shown that mice benefited from ingestion of omega 3 fatty acids and the study will be continued on humans to check on the supplement's effects on arthritic joints.
Penned by Dr. Rachita Narsaria
Wu CL, Jain D, McNeil JN et al. Dietary fatty acid content regulates wound repair and the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis following joint injury. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. 2014-205601.