Fiber for Knee Osteoarthritis?

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Getting more fiber may help reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee, according to a 2017 study in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, which assessed the diets of thousands of people in the Osteoarthritis Initiative study, using food frequency questionnaires.

Those with the highest total fiber intake (21 grams a day, on average, from grains, legumes, nuts, fruits, and vegetables) had a 30 percent lower risk of developing symptomatic knee osteoarthritis over four years, compared to those with the lowest intake (9 grams a day), along with less worsening of pain. This was true after the researchers controlled for knee injuries, medications, alcohol use, exercise, and other potential confounding factors and regardless of obesity status. The study also included data from participants in the Framingham Offspring Study, which showed even greater reductions in risk (61 percent) among those with the highest fiber intake (26 grams a day).

Though the observational data did not prove cause and effect, fiber may benefit osteoarthritis by reducing inflammation and promoting weight control. There is not enough evidence to make osteoarthritis-specific recommendations for fiber consumption. However, the amount of fiber in the highest-intake groups was within the range of what is recommended by health authorities for general health.

Fiber is present in fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Experts recommend:

  • Consuming a variety of foods to get a mix of fiber compounds.
  • Choosing whole grains over refined and whole fruits over juices.
  • Comparing food labels to find products with higher amounts of fiber