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Known as “wear and tear” arthritis, osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis, affecting more than 30 million American adults. Worldwide, the condition is estimated to affect 10-percent of men and 18-percent of women over 60, with women over 50 being the most likely to develop the condition.

In a new study published in the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, Dr. Zhaoli Dai (of the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, and Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University), looked at the health benefits of a high-fiber diet, including whether or not it might help individuals coping with osteoarthritis.

Examining a total of 4,796 participants from the Osteoarthritis Initiative (OAI) and 1,268 from the Framingham Offspring Osteoarthritis Study, researchers first determined the amount of fiber each participant consumed, using a food frequency questionnaire. Alongside this, common forms of OA were determined and recorded by X-rays, including knee pain, stiffness, and swelling.

Researchers checked in on OAI participants every 48 months and evaluated Framingham study participants after nine years. In addition, the researchers collected information on other issues that might affect results, including knee injuries, medication, alcohol consumption, physical exercise, and lifestyle.

Results of the study showed that patients consuming the most fiber had a 30-percent lower risk of OA compared to those who consumed the least. According to Dr. Dai and his colleagues, “Findings from two longitudinal studies consistently showed that higher total fiber intake was related to a lower risk of (symptomatic OA), while the relation to (incident radiographic OA) was unclear.”

While the study cannot prove beyond a doubt that fiber reduces the risk of OA, it does show that eating more fiber significantly reduced knee pain in some of the participants.

So what are some good sources of fiber? Nuts, whole grains, non-starchy vegetables, and fruit all make the list!

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