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Osteoarthritis 'can be prevented by improving diet and exercise'

Published on 17 May 2017
Osteoarthritis 'can be prevented by improving diet and exercise'

Improving dietary intake and getting more exercise can make a difference to a person's risk of developing osteoarthritis, according to new research.

Scientists from the University of Surrey have conducted an expert review that has identified a crucial link between metabolism and osteoarthritis, suggesting that basic lifestyle changes can be effective in delaying or preventing the onset of the condition.

The link between osteoarthritis and metabolism
The study examined existing research evidence to assess the role that metabolic changes caused by a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle have on triggering the genetic reprogramming of cells in the body and joints.

It was shown that these changes impair the cells' ability to produce energy, resulting in an overproduction of glucose to compensate. This, in turn, leads to an accumulation of lactic acid that causes inflammation in the joint cartilage, impeding movement and causing pain - the early signs of osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis 'is not an inevitability of age'
Currently, there is no effective treatment for this disease, with therapeutic approaches only treating the symptoms, rather than offering a cure. However, this study offers hope that it may be possible to control or significantly slow down the symptoms of osteoarthritis through simple lifestyle changes.

Lead author Ali Mobasheri, professor of musculoskeletal physiology at the University of Surrey, said: "For too long, osteoarthritis has been known as the 'wear and tear disease', and it has been assumed that it is part and parcel of getting older. However, this is not the case and what we have learnt is that we can control and prevent the onset of this painful condition.

"It is important never to underestimate the significance of a healthy diet and lifestyle, as not only does it impact upon our general wellbeing but can alter the metabolic behaviour of our cells, tissues and organs, leading to serious illnesses."

Arthritis Research UK's view
Dr Natalie Carter, head of research liaison and evaluation at Arthritis Research UK, said: "Osteoarthritis is the most common form of joint disease; it affects millions of people in the UK, and causes pain, isolation and fatigue.

"We agree that arthritis isn’t a 'wear and tear condition', but can be managed by a healthy lifestyle, supported by a good diet and regular exercise. There are hints and tips on our website for people looking for advice on how to achieve this.

"We know that vitamins and minerals are important for maintaining healthy joints and bones. Being overweight can put more strain on the joints, increasing the likelihood of developing arthritis. We are continuing to invest in research that looks at how diet, exercise and a range of other factors can help to prevent and limit the pain caused by osteoarthritis."

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