High-fat, high-carb diet a cause of osteoarthritis

April 18, 2017

Saturated fat is a prime suspect in the onset of osteoarthritis after QUT scientists found it changed the composition of cartilage, particularly in the weight-bearing joints of the hip and knee.

Research, published today in Scientific Reports, conducted by Professor Yin Xiao, from QUT's Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation and his team, in collaboration with Professor Lindsay Brown and his team at University of Southern Queensland, is possibly the first study to investigate the association between osteoarthritis and common dietary .

The researchers studied the effects on joints of diets rich in a variety of saturated fatty acids found in such foods as butter, coconut oil, palm oil and animal fat, and simple carbohydrates - a high-fat, high carbohydrate common to "junk food".

"Our findings suggest that it's not wear and tear but diet that has a lot to do with the onset of osteoarthritis," Professor Xiao said.

"The main function of cartilage is to seal the bone ends in a joint and absorb pressure on the bones during weight-bearing movement such as walking.

"We found that a diet containing simple carbohydrates together with 20 per cent 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. This would, in turn, lead to osteoarthritic pain from the loss of the cushioning effect of cartilage.

"We also found changes in the bone under the cartilage on a diet rich in saturated fat."

PhD student Sunder Sekar said the team tested lauric acid, a saturated fatty acid found in coconut oil.

"Interestingly, when we replaced the meat fat in the diet with lauric acid we found decreased signs of cartilage deterioration and metabolic syndrome so it seems to have a protective effect," Mr Sekar said.

He said fatty acids could cause tissue inflammation in the entire "joint environment".

"We tested a variety of saturated fats and found that long term use of animal fat, butter, and palm oil could weaken the .

"Replacement of traditional diets containing coconut-derived lauric acid with palm oil-derived palmitic acid or animal fat-derived stearic has the potential to worsen the development of both metabolic syndrome and osteoarthritis."

Professor Xiao's previous research has found that antioxidants and anti-cholesterol drugs could slow the progression of joint damage caused by fatty acids.

The study is supported by the Prince Charles Hospital Research Foundation.

Explore further: Consuming high amounts of saturated fats linked to increased heart disease risk

Related Stories

Consuming high amounts of saturated fats linked to increased heart disease risk

November 23, 2016
Consuming high amounts of four major saturated fatty acids—found in red meat, dairy fat, butter, lard, and palm oil—may increase risk of coronary heart disease, according to a new study led by researchers at Harvard T.H. ...

Is coconut oil good for you?

September 29, 2014
There is no consistent body of data that I am aware of to indicate that coconut oil has documented specific beneficial effects; hence, there is no data that I'm aware of to suggest people should go out of their way to consume ...

Blood fatty acids reveal your child's diet

March 23, 2017
Eating lots of sugary candy may strain the liver, alter the body's fatty acid metabolism and increase the risk of cardiometabolic diseases already in childhood. Children's blood fatty acid composition reflects their diet ...

Consuming saturated animal fats increases the risk of type 2 diabetes

February 17, 2017
Recently, dietary guidelines for the general population have shifted toward a plant-based diet rich in legumes, whole-grain cereals, fruits, vegetables and nuts, and low in animal-based foods like red meat. Increasing evidence ...

Omega 3 fatty acids lessen severity of osteoarthritis in mice

July 11, 2014
Mice consuming a supplement of omega 3 fatty acids had healthier joints than those fed diets high in saturated fats and omega 6 fatty acids, according to Duke Medicine researchers.

Fatty acid composition in blood reflects the quality of dietary fat and carbohydrates in children

April 7, 2014
Recently published research in the University of Eastern Finland found that fatty acid composition in blood is not only a biomarker for the quality of dietary fat but also reflects the quality of dietary carbohydrates. For ...

Recommended for you

Fluid in the knee holds clues for why osteoarthritis is more common in females

June 26, 2017
Researchers have more evidence that males and females are different, this time in the fluid that helps protect the cartilage in their knee joints.

Biologics before triple therapy not cost effective for rheumatoid arthritis

May 29, 2017
Stepping up to biologic therapy when methotrexate monotherapy fails offers minimal incremental benefit over using a combination of drugs known as triple therapy, yet incurs large costs for treating rheumatoid arthritis (RA). ...

Drug for refractory psoriatic arthritis shows promise in clinical trial

May 24, 2017
In a pivotal phase-3 clinical trial led by a Stanford University School of Medicine investigator, patients with psoriatic arthritis for whom standard-of-care pharmaceutical treatments have provided no lasting relief experienced ...

Cross-species links identified for osteoarthritis

May 17, 2017
New research from the University of Liverpool, published today in the journal npj Systems Biology and Applications, has identified 'cell messages' that could help identify the early stages of osteoarthritis (OA).

Osteoarthritis could be prevented with good diet and exercise

May 12, 2017
Osteoarthritis can potentially be prevented with a good diet and regular exercise, a new expert review published in the Nature Reviews Rheumatology reports.

Rodents with trouble walking reveal potential treatment approach for most common joint disease

May 11, 2017
Maintaining the supply of a molecule that helps to nourish cartilage prevented osteoarthritis in animal models of the disease, according to a report published in Nature Communications online May 11.

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

dogbert
not rated yet Apr 18, 2017
Why did the study only test diets high in cabohydrates and high in saturated fats?

Do diets high in carbohydrates and high in monosaturated fats cause osteoarthritis?

Do diets high in carbohydrates and high in polyunsaturated fats cause osteoarthritis?

The study informs more in what it did not test than what it did test.
IronhorseA
not rated yet Apr 18, 2017
Just remove the carbohydrates and everything will be just fine. Remember, 'butter is back'.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.