Armandi suffers from osteoarthritis, a form of rheumatism that involves the entire joint. As the quality of the cartilage deteriorates, your joints sometimes become inflamed, and the bone at the joint changes, you may feel pain, stiffness, and difficulty moving. Now Armandi wonders if the effect of diet on how much you suffer from osteoporosis has actually been properly researched. “I’ve noticed that when I don’t eat animal proteins, I have a lot less stiffness.”
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According to Margaret Kloppenburg, MD, professor of rheumatology at Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC), much research – comprehensive and less comprehensive – has been done into specific foods and supplements and their effect on arthritis complaints. “Then strawberries, then broccoli again and then avocados, you name it. Or whole groups of foods. But no study has been done specifically on lower animal proteins.”
Also at the moment, research is being conducted on the effect of dieting with more exercise on various forms of osteoporosis, Kloppenburg knows. “But so far, not all of these studies have translated into advice for patients with osteoporosis to follow a particular diet or avoid certain foods. We need more conclusive evidence to draw these kinds of conclusions.”
According to Kloppenburg, osteoporosis is still a fairly underexposed condition, while many – 1.5 million Dutch people – suffer from the disease. “The impact of osteoarthritis is huge, on your daily activities, on your mobility and on your participation in society.” Although there is no specific nutritional advice (yet) for these patients, a healthy diet is of great importance. Kloppenburg: “A good, healthy diet is important because a healthy weight is very important. We know that in addition to (family) predisposition and (sports) injury – being overweight and obese increases the risk of osteoporosis.”
People who are overweight and obese often have osteoarthritis of the knees. “On the other hand, this is because you have an increased load due to being overweight; you have to carry more weight, so that your knees suffer. On the other hand, we know that fatty tissue can produce substances that can have an undesirable effect on your cartilage. And that these Substances can contribute to someone’s pain. We also know that when a person loses weight, a person has fewer complaints.”
Unfortunately, this does not mean that losing weight also portends the end of osteoporosis. “No, losing weight does not mean that the structural abnormalities in the joint are reduced. You don’t treat it that way. But losing weight means a better quality of life, because you have less pain and stiffness, and you prevent osteoarthritis from getting worse.”
Kloppenburg can’t stress this often enough to her patients: Weight gain is very unfavorable, so – no matter how difficult it is to lose weight – losing weight is very important to have fewer complaints.
Omega 3 and fiber
According to Kloppenburg, there is currently a lot of interest in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids – which are said to have a beneficial and anti-inflammatory effect – and in eating fiber (grains, fruits and vegetables), after which patients will feel less. Problems with osteoarthritis of the knee. “But this is still difficult. The question remains: Are these positive results due to the substances in these products or because people who like to eat this often have less (plus) weight?”
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