Want to keep your cartilage?  Well you'd better lose weight

A study published in the journal Radiology has found that obesity contributes to rapid cartilage loss.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It causes loss of cartilage, inflammation, pain and stiffness in the joints. The most commonly affected joints are the knees, hips and joints of the lower back and neck. Glucosamine, MSM and fish oil supplements are commonly used for osteoarthritis and they are usually very effective.

In many cases osteoarthritis progresses slowly; it can take several decades for substantial cartilage loss to occur, and symptoms of pain and stiffness usually occur gradually and may come and go. However, researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine have found that in overweight people, cartilage loss and osteoarthritis progress rapidly.

A high Body Mass Index (BMI) was the greatest predictor of who would lose cartilage the fastest in a study involving 3,026 people aged 50 to 79 years. Other predictors of rapid cartilage loss were tears and previous injuries to joints, and synovitis (inflammation of the synovial membrane of a joint). Age, gender and ethnicity were not associated with rapid cartilage loss.

For every 1 unit increase in BMI above 26, the risk of cartilage loss increased by 11 percent. An ideal BMI is considered to be between 18.5 and 24.9.
The researchers of this study concluded that “weight loss is probably the most important factor to slow disease progression”.

If you are overweight and have osteoarthritis, this is what you can do:

  • Follow the lower carbohydrate, higher protein eating plan in our book called I Can't Lose Weight, and I Don't Know Why. Basically you can lose weight if you avoid eating sugar and flour. Our book contains an eating plan and recipes to help you achieve a healthy weight.
  • Avoid or minimise foods that promote inflammation; these include dairy products, wheat, excess alcohol, artificial colours and preservatives and any food to which you are allergic.
  • Consume lots of antioxidants in the form of vegetables, fruit, herbs, spices, green tea, nuts and seeds. Making your own raw vegetable juices is an excellent way to get more antioxidants into your body.
  • Fish oil is a brilliant and powerful natural anti-inflammatory agent; it can be taken in capsule or liquid form.
  • Glucosamine helps to rebuild lost cartilage and offers pain relief. If you do have any form of arthritis you should find it very beneficial. MSM is a natural form of sulfur which is a building block for connective tissue in the body. It is very helpful for all kinds of joint pain.

Why does being overweight cause cartilage loss?
Probably because our joints were never designed to withstand the extra load placed on them by carrying around all those extra pounds. Another possible explanation is the inflammation that occurs in overweight people's bodies. Fat cells are capable of producing a host of inflammatory chemicals that cause free radical damage and wear and tear to the body. The more fat cells you have and the bigger they are, the more of these chemicals get produced.


Journal of Radiology