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Diet may not ease osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis progression: Research

by Pragati Singh

According to an assessment of the available scientific data, nutrition has no effect on the course of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

The research was published in RMD Open, an open-access publication. While a nutritious diet has various health advantages, any effect on rheumatic and musculoskeletal disorders is minimal and not clinically significant, according to the analysis, because there aren’t enough high-quality dietary research.

Diet has been shown to have an impact on cardiovascular and mental health, but it’s unclear if it might also affect the symptoms and course of rheumatic and musculoskeletal disorders.

In order to find out, the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) convened an international task force in 2018 to investigate the impact of diet, exercise, weight, alcohol, smoking, and paid work on disease progression, as well as develop appropriate recommendations for clinicians and patients for each of these behaviours.

The task force looked for appropriate systematic reviews of randomised controlled trials or observational studies that looked at the influence of dietary components/supplements on pain, joint damage, and physical function for seven common rheumatic and musculoskeletal disorders and pooled data analysis.

Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, axial spondyloarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, systemic sclerosis, and gout were among the conditions mentioned.

The pooled data analysis comprised 24 systematic reviews published between 2013 and 2018, as well as 150 original research publications published without regard to publication date.

The majority of the studies focused on osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis and used a variety of dietary compounds/supplements, including animal products, experimental diets, food components, fruits and vegetables, as well as other plant-based interventions, minerals and supplements, and vitamins.

Because there were so few dietary trials for osteoarthritis, the evidence for them was rated as low or very poor.

The pooled data analysis revealed that the amount of the influence on disease progression was often minimal and not clinically relevant for dietary therapies with intermediate evidence (fish oil, chondroitin, glucosamine, vitamin D, avocado, and soybean).

Because of the small number of trials and participants, the evidence for most dietary treatments in rheumatoid arthritis was rated as low or very poor. Probiotics, vitamin D, and fish oil/omega-3 all had moderate-quality data, but the benefit was either minimal or too tiny to make a difference.

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Similarly, the evidence for fish oil/omega-3 in the treatment of psoriatic arthritis was graded as modest, with no influence on outcomes. Other dietary therapies were deemed ineffective due to a lack of data. The evidence for gout and systemic sclerosis was likewise evaluated as weak.

“Therefore, based on the current evidence, there is no single dietary intervention which has substantial benefits on the outcomes of people with [osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis],” conclude the authors.

“While there have been far fewer research studies published for the other included [rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases], again, there is no consistent evidence that any dietary exposure significantly improves outcomes in these conditions,” they add.

They stress that while nutrition may not make a significant difference in disease development in these illnesses, persons who live with them should eat properly and avoid gaining too much weight.

“Health professionals can advise people with [these conditions] that consuming specific dietary components is unlikely to influence the progression of their [disease], but that it is important to maintain a healthy diet and healthy weight for general health reasons,” they wrote.

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