Study Links Dietary Fiber and Arthritis
New research published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases suggests a diet high in fiber may reduce the risk for osteoarthritis (OA)—a common cause of knee pain that affects more than 30 million adults in the United States. The study involved participants from two large, long-term research studies, 4,796 from the Osteoarthritis Initiative and 1,268 from the Framingham Offspring Osteoarthritis Study; it was conducted by researchers at Tufts University in Boston and the University of Manchester in the U.K.
Study participants were evaluated either annually for four years, or after nine years, depending on the study. Initially, they had completed a food frequency questionnaire indicating their fiber intake. Researchers collected information about lifestyle factors—such as physical activity and alcohol consumption. They also assessed osteoarthritis symptoms, evaluated diagnostic X-rays, and recorded data on knee injuries and medications.
According to researchers, those participants with the highest fiber intake had a 30 to 62 percent lower risk for osteoarthritis. In those with osteoarthritis of the knee, a diet high in fiber helped keep the condition from getting worse. The researchers noted that their data shows a link between fiber intake and lower osteoarthritis risk, but doesn’t establish a cause and effect relationship.