Why is a healthy diet so important for arthrosis?
Diet and body weight have a significant influence on the development and treatment of arthrosis: How much and what you eat matters.
Being overweight for many years poses health risks. Being overweight strains the joints. As a result, they wear faster than in people of normal weight. Those affected by arthrosis and being overweight should consider a change of diet in consultation with their doctor.
Study: Connection between being overweight and developing knee arthrosis (gonarthrosis)
In an Australian study, scientists investigated the relationship between being overweight and knee arthrosis: Patients of a healthy weight only developed knee arthrosis at an older age. Young, healthy but overweight patients saw a decrease in cartilage at a younger age.1
Overweight people therefore often suffer more from joint wear and joint pain than those of normal weight. Therefore, doctors often advise arthrosis patients to lose weight.
What is considered overweight?
Being overweight is classified as having a BMI (body mass index) of 25 and over. A BMI of over 30 signifies being obese.
What does nutrition have to do with arthrosis and metabolism in the joint
The nutrient richness of synovial fluid is important for joint metabolism because: Diet affects the quality of synovial fluid. The joint cartilage must be continuously supplied with important nutrients. This is done by the nutrients contained in the synovial fluid. We consume these in our food.
The blood then transports it into the synovial fluid. This contains minerals, sugar and protein. Important joint components are: Glucosamine sulphate, chondroitin sulphate, collagen hydrolysate and hyaluronic acid. They bind water to themselves and allow the joints to slide smoothly. The avascular cartilage can only absorb nutrients through movement. If there is a deficiency, the cartilage breaks down. Once the cartilage is destroyed, the bones rub directly against one another.
Therefore, you should support your joint metabolism with lots of exercise and the right foods. For example:
- Vegetables, fresh herbs, spices and fruit
- lean and low-fat dairy products (cheese under 45 percent fat)
- vegetable oils and fats (linseed oil, olive oil, rapeseed oil, avocado oil)
- wholegrain products, seeds and nuts
- cold water fish
Spices for arthrosis
Certain spices have anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. When used properly, they can support arthrosis therapy. Both Indian Ayurvedic teachings and Chinese medicine use spices to treat arthrosis. Please contact your doctor.
Turmeric contains curcumin, which can counteract inflammation. As a result, the joint swelling subsides and the patient becomes more mobile again. A study by the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities of Canada (WOMAC) confirmed the beneficial effects of turmeric in arthrosis.2
Ginger also promotes blood circulation and has anti-inflammatory properties. For arthrosis it is used externally and internally: Arthrosis patients can apply ginger paste or oil directly to the joint or consume it as a tea to feel the effect “from the inside”.
Chillies contain the active ingredient capsaicin, which is said to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Arthrosis patients rub the affected area with capsaicin cream.
This special spice combination also relieves inflammation. It should also promote the circulation of the synovial membrane. This can counteract wear and relieve pain.
Preventing arthrosis: Take care when consuming animal fats and omega-6 fatty acids
A change in diet may not cure existing arthrosis, but it can improve therapy and ease discomfort. Arthrosis patients should avoid the following foods or only consume them in moderation:
- red meat
- dairy products
- fast food and ready meals
Animal fats should be consumed mindfully: They contain arachidonic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid that promotes inflammatory processes in the joint and cartilage area. Offal, such as liver, lard, liver sausage, eggs and seafood, have particularly high levels of arachidonic acid.
Arthrosis patients should also avoid reaching for ready meals or fast food: Such meals are high in calories but have practically no nutritional value.
Overview of nutrition for arthrosis
It is crucial to provide the joints with vitamins, minerals, trace elements and secondary plant compounds at all ages. Secondary plant compounds such as olive polyphenols, extracted from the olive, protect the joints against oxidative stress and have anti-inflammatory effects.3
|Beverages||water, unsweetened ginger or herbal tea, unsweetened almond or oat drinks||drinking chocolate, fruit nectar, soy drinks, soft drinks, alcohol|
(1 handful daily)
|apple, berries, clementine, kiwi, nectarine, peach, plum, sour cherry, watermelon||dried fruit, physalis|
(3 handfuls daily)
|beans, peas, fennel, cucumber, cabbage, lentils, chard, mushrooms, peppers, lettuce, sauerkraut, asparagus, spinach, tomatoes, zucchini||buttered frozen vegetables|
|Nuts & seeds |
(20 g daily)
|almonds, cashew nuts, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, hazelnuts and walnuts||peanuts, salted nuts|
|Fats & oils |
(2 tbsp. daily)
|olive oil, rapeseed oil, walnut oil, linseed oil, wheat germ oil||clarified butter, palm oil, mayonnaise, sunflower oil, safflower oil|
|Cereals & side dishes |
(2 handfuls daily)
|spelt, oat flakes, jacket potatoes, wholegrain products, millet||white bread, rusk, croissant, peeled rice, durum wheat pasta, French fries and fast food in general, ready meals, crispbread|
|Lean meat & sausage |
(100 g weekly)
|chicken and turkey, corned beef, beef fillet||pork, breaded meat|
|Fish & seafood |
(2 servings weekly)
|trout, halibut, herring, cod, salmon, mackerel, sardine, plaice, turbot, shrimps, crabs||breaded fish|
|Eggs, milk & cheese||maximum two eggs per week, otherwise daily low-fat milk and dairy products such as buttermilk, natural yoghurt, quark (up to 20 percent fat), cheese with maximum 45 percent fat content||fruit buttermilk, fruit yoghurt, rice pudding, pudding, cream quark|
1 Ding, C., Cicuttini, F., Scott, F., Cooley, B., Jones C. (2006) Natural history of knee cartilage defects and factors affecting change.
2 IFT (2011) Curcumin may relieve pain, inflammation for osteoarthritis patients, available online at: www.ift.org/food-technology/daily-news/2011/january/11/curcumin-may-relieve-pain-inflammation-for-osteoarthritis-patients.aspx (Last accessed: 18.01.2019)
3 Bolewski, J. (2014) Ernährung bei Arthrose, available online at: eatsmarter.de/ernaehrung/bei-krankheiten/ernaehrung-bei-arthrose (Last accessed: 21.01.2019)
Learn here which type of sport is most suitable for you
Orthoses relieve stress on the affected joint
Causes of osteoarthritis of the knee and tips for patients