A diet rich in fiber can help reduce knee pain, and the risk of developing painful osteoarthritis, according to a first-of-its-kind study published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.
The findings, which draw from two different long-term studies, add to the list of health benefits of a fiber-rich diet, including reductions in blood pressure, weight, inflammation, and blood glucose.
The first study, known as the Osteoarthritis Initiative (OAI), tracked the health of nearly 5,000 older Americans with or at risk of developing the immune disorder, also known as degenerative joint disease or “wear and tear” arthritis, beginning in 2004. The intent of this study was to use the data collected to determine potential risk factors for this condition.
The second, known as the Framingham Offspring cohort study, tracked more than 1,200 adult children of the original Framingham Heart Study, which began in 1971.
Both studies used a questionnaire to determine the dietary fiber intake of each participant, finding that the average person’s intake was between 15 and 19 grams of fiber daily.
Analysis of the results of both studies found that eating more fiber is associated with a lower risk of painful knee osteoarthritis.
Those in the OAI study who ate the most fiber had 30 percent lower risk, while high-fiber diets were linked with a 61 percent reduced risk in the Framingham research group. Additionally, eating more fiber was linked with a significantly lower risk of worsening knee pain.
“These data demonstrate a consistent protective association between total fiber intake and symptom-related knee [osteoarthritis] in two study populations with careful adjustment for potential confounders,” the researchers concluded.