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Fibre-rich diet may help ward off knee osteoarthritis

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Eating foods packed with fibre such fruit, veg and cereal may help ward off painful osteoarthritis in the knees, suggests a new study.

The research, published in the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, found consuming a fibre-rich diet was linked to a lower risk of developing the condition.

“Those who consumed higher fibre intake were less likely to develop symptomatic osteoarthritis”

Study authors

The findings draw on two long-term health studies in the US encompassing data on about 5,000 older adults, including information on fibre intake, symptoms of osteoarthritis and x-ray evidence.

The analysis, by researchers from Tufts University in Boston, found eating more fibre was associated with a lower risk of painful – or symptomatic – knee osteoarthritis.

Among 4,000 or so participants in one of the core studies – the Osteoarthritis Initiative – revealed those who consumed the most fibre had a 30% lower risk of developing symptomatic osteoarthritis.

Eating more fibre in general and consuming a lot of cereal fibre were also linked to a significantly lower risk of knee pain getting worse, said the researchers.

In the other study of nearly 1,000 participants – the Framingham Offspring cohort study – the study authors found a 61% lower risk of symptomatic osteoarthritis among those who ate most fibre.

“To our knowledge, this was the first study in the literature investigating the association between dietary fibre and osteoarthritis outcomes,” stated the authors of the paper.

“Our results consistently showed that in two prospective US cohorts with different study designs and study populations, those who consumed higher fibre intake were less likely to develop symptomatic osteoarthritis or to experience worsening knee pain during the study course regardless of socioeconomic or obesity status,” they said.

“These data demonstrate a consistent protective association between total fibre intake and symptom-related knee osteoarthritis in two study populations, with careful adjustment for potential confounders,” they added.

The research team stressed their research was an observational study so not firm conclusions could be made about cause and effect.

However, they said their findings chimed with other research into the health benefits of eating plenty of fibre, which suggested this can help reduce blood pressure, weight, systemic inflammation and blood glucose control.

Such benefits may in turn have an impact on someone’s chances of developing osteoarthritis, they noted.

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