BRISBANE, Australia — Can’t stand those achy joints? Throw away that junk food sitting in your pantry. A recent study finds that a diet high in saturated fat increases a person’s risk of developing osteoarthritis.
Researchers at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) found that cartilage deteriorates faster, especially in the knees and hips, because of high-fat, high-carbohydrate diets.
Professor Yin Xiao, of QUT’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, joined forces with Professor Lindsay Brown of USQ to create what is believed to be the first medical study investigating the connection between the onset of osteoarthritis and many common dietary fatty acids.
“Our findings suggest that it’s not wear and tear but diet that has a lot to do with the onset of osteoarthritis,” explains Xiao in a media release.
The researchers found that diets with high levels of saturated fat, commonly found in food additives like butter, coconut oil, palm oil, and animal fat caused the cartilage in joints to deteriorate faster.
“We found that a diet containing simple carbohydrates together with 20 percent saturated fats produced osteoarthritic-like changes in the knee. Saturated fatty acid deposits in the cartilage change its metabolism and weaken the cartilage, making it more prone to damage,” says Xiao. “This would, in turn, lead to osteoarthritic pain from the loss of the cushioning effect of cartilage.”
The researchers say that even the bones themselves under the cartilage were changed by a diet high in saturated fats.
For good measure, the researchers attempted to replace animal fat in the diet of the rats they studied with lauric acid, commonly found in coconut oil. They found fewer signs of cartilage deterioration and other tell-tale signs of osteoarthritis.
The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.