According to a research paper recently published in the journal Nature Communications, the risk of inflammatory joint diseases and osteoporosis risk can be lowered by shifting to a fiber-rich diet. Inflammatory joint diseases and osteoporosis cause bone damage and can be very painful and debilitating, to say the least. Once these conditions become chronic, little can be done to treat it. However, improving bone health can lower the risk of these diseases, and this is achievable not only through proper exercise, but also a suitable diet.
Research carried out at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) has drawn a correlation between diet and bone health. The researchers have found that a fiber-rich diet can positively impact patients suffering from chronic inflammatory joint diseases and can help to make bones stronger.
How is a fiber-rich diet linked to bone health?
It is a well-known fact that a fiber-rich diet is good for our intestinal health. It has also been established that we have a variety of intestinal bacteria that are benign in nature. These bacteria are also called ‘intestinal flora.’ They not only fight pathogens in the intestinal tract, but also aid in digestion by breaking-down fiber into separate components that can be absorbed by our body as nutrition. In the process, intestinal bacteria produce short-chained fatty acids, which provide energy and stimulate the movement of intestines, thereby improving metabolism.
The stimulation of metabolism caused by these bacteria has a positive impact on the immune system, preventing the onset of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, they are also anti-inflammatory in nature and can be linked to reduction of joint swelling.
Research carried out at Friedrich Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU) also found that the intestinal bacteria produce the fatty acids propionate and butyrate, which are found in joint fluids. They drew a link between the production of these acids in the gastrointestinal tract and osteoarthritis – a condition in which the amount of fluid between the joints deteriorates – affecting their functionality and causing pain.
Research carried out under the direction of Dr. Mario Zaiss (from the Department of Medicine 3–Rheumatology and Immunology at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg) showed how a fiber-rich diet can affect the quality of intestinal bacteria in such a way that they produce more fatty acids. This research also demonstrated how these fatty acids present in bone marrow can prevent bone degradation and lower the risk of osteoporosis and arthritis.
The link between bone and joint health and gut bacteria proves that a fiber-rich diet can improve bone density, help us to maintain healthy joints, and reduce the risk of inflammatory bone diseases and osteoporosis. The findings of this research will serve as the basis for further research in the field that would aim to develop therapies for these conditions. Until then, Dr. Zaiss recommends having muesli for breakfast and plenty of fruits and vegetables during the day to maintain healthy intestinal bacteria that impacts overall health, and the health of our bones and joints in particular.