Whether a certain diet can make a difference or even make It better when it comes to osteoarthritis (OA) is a question that has been asked several times. We spoke to a dietician called Erik Jönsson who works at several health centers in region Skåne. He has met patients with OA many times, even if that’s often not the reason they get an appointment. Erik has also lectured on diets during “OA school” at the health centers where he works.
There is no evidence today showing that a certain diet will improve or prevent OA, but there are factors which can deteriorate or develop from OA, overweight is one factor. OA often leads to a down going spiral where some patients even get a hard time managing their everyday life. Differences in the everyday life might cause either no appetite at all or bigger appetite than usual. If food becomes comforting or rewarding, this might give one a better feeling for the moment but, it will probably cause health issues such as overweight in the long run. If OA causes a lot of pain, this might as well be a part of the down going spiral, since pain might contribute to less movement this might as well cause weight problems and by that aggravate the OA.
According to research, there is no diet which seems to be better than others for individuals with OA. Erik tells us that it’s been studied for a while whether a vegetarian diet should be better when one has a rheumatic disease, the research shows an improvement for some of those who has tried a vegetarian diet. Erik also tells that for now it’s a bit unsure why people experience an improvement from this diet and that the “vegetarian” has meant different things for everyone. This subject still needs more research but, according to Erik, it’s a subject for the future.
Eating “healthy” can’t prevent OA, but eating healthy is good for everyone, and it might prevent factors which in the long run can cause OA.
If one is living with more or less constant pain because of OA and due to this has become limited in the everyday life, no wonder one wants to try more or less everything that comes in the way. One thing that is often promoted a lot is herbal medicine and other alternative treatments, some of them which according to themselves are supposed to relieve or even cure pain. Erik says that it is important to keep in mind that in some cases it is hard to know what they consist of. If one does feel better from the herbal medicine, of course that is a good thing, but it is not always possible to make sure what caused the improvement. It might be the herbal medicine, but it might as well be other drugs or changes in the everyday life. It is also important to know that some herbal medicines might knock out the effect of other drugs. If one has drugs that are vital, it is important to consult a doctor before using herbal medicine.
Today it is not that common for individuals with OA to see a dietician because of their OA, what is common though is for people with overweight to come see a dietician to talk about their diet and lifestyle. According to Erik, it is likely to believe that several of these patients suffer from OA, some of them without knowing it themselves. He also tells us that it might not be necessary for individuals with OA to see a dietician more frequent, but it is important for dieticians to know which symptoms that might indicate OA to be able to help patients to get in touch with a doctor in that case.
Erik’s best tips if you suffer from OA:
- Try to watch your weight -> especially if you suffer from hip and/or knee OA
- Keep in mind that herbal medicines might knock out other vital drugs and don’t hesitate to question their actual effect. Herbal medicines might be expensive and effect your health.
- For women, it can be extra important to keep an eye on your vitamin D and calcium intake to decrease the risk of osteoporosis and by that risk a more complicated OA in the future.
To conclude, there is not much evidence today that one special diet is better than another for individuals with OA. There is much research going on in this field, and hopefully there’ll be more knowledge soon. It might be an option to try a vegetarian diet, even though there is not enough evidence to say that it will make OA better. If you do try a vegetarian diet, make sure to get all necessary nutrients included in the diet. It is important to keep an eye on your weight, and even more important to exercise. Also, keep in mind that there is help out there, don’t hesitate to reach out.