Plant-Based Diets Ease Osteoarthritis Symptoms

New research shows that fiber intake—not animal products—is key to joint health.


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A study conducted by scientists at Tufts University and released earlier this month in scientific publication British Medical Journal found that high fiber intake in US adults dramatically reduced the incidence of knee osteoarthritis and the worsening of pain for patients already afflicted by the disease. Researchers examined data about 4,796 participants in the Osteoarthritis Initiative (OA) and 1,268 participants in the Framingham Offspring Osteoarthritis Study (FOOS) to determine how fiber intake affected the incidence of knee osteoarthritis. Researchers found that OS and FOOS participants with the highest fiber intake reduced their risk of contracting the disease by 30 percent and 61 percent, respectively. “This is the first study to show that consuming more dietary fiber is related to lower risk of painful knee osteoarthritis,” the study’s lead author Zhaoli Dai, MD said. “Changing diets by increasing intake of dietary fiber seems to be one of the most economic ways to reduce the risk of knee osteoarthritis.” While animal products do not contain fiber, all plant-based foods such as fruit, vegetables, and grains are high in the essential nutrient. Mounting research has found that those who consume a plant-based diet are less susceptible to diseases such as type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and heart disease.