New research finds a healthy diet unlikely to ease arthritis

Jun 11, 2022
A review into dietary impact on arthritis has found healthy eating is unlikely to ease the condition. Source: Getty

A scientific review conducted by The University of Manchester, UK, found that a healthy diet is unlikely to ease the impact of arthritis.

The research, published in the RMD Open, discovered that while diet has significant benefits on cardiovascular and mental health, its impact on rheumatoid and musculoskeletal conditions is too small to be considered meaningful.

The analysis looked into the results of an international taskforce conducted in 2018 by the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR), which researched the possible impacts of diet, exercise, weight, alcohol, smoking and paid work on disease progression.

The EULAR’s study involved controlled trials, observational studies and pooled data from 24 systematic reviews dating between 2013 and 2018, and 150 research articles, to assess the influence of diet and supplements on pain, joint damage, and physical function for osteoarthritis; rheumatoid arthritis; systemic lupus erythematosus; axial spondyloarthritis; psoriatic arthritis; systemic sclerosis; and gout.

For the majority of dietary interventions in rheumatoid arthritis, the data found the impact unsatisfactory due to the lack of research and the number of participants in studies. The data found the impact of probiotics, vitamin D, and fish oil/omega-3 to be insignificant or too minor to make a meaningful difference. The results for osteoarthritis were much the same.

Evidence for using fish oil/omega-3 for psoriatic arthritis was considered moderate, proving no effect on outcomes, with other dietary interference rated as poor. The data for systemic sclerosis and gout was also found to be poor.

“Therefore, based on the current evidence, there is no single dietary intervention which has substantial benefits on the outcomes of people with [osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis],” the authors of the review conclude.

“While there have been far fewer research studies published for the other included [rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases], again, there is no consistent evidence that any dietary exposure significantly improves outcomes in these conditions.

“Health professionals can advise people with [these conditions] that consuming specific dietary components is unlikely to influence the progression of their [disease], but that it is important to maintain a healthy diet and healthy weight for general health reasons.”

According to Arthritis Australia, the country’s ageing population is set to see the number of people suffering from arthritic conditions skyrocket to 5.4 million by 2030.

Although diet is unlikely to ease arthritis, the president of Osteopathy Australia, Michelle Funder, says exercise therapy can help treat the condition.

“The benefits of exercise for arthritis not only help improve the strength of the muscles around the arthritic joints to help protect the area, but it can also reduce pain, improve mood, and cardiovascular health,” Funder said.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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