Arthritis is a common disease condition affecting people of all ages and geographical location. It is well characterized by symptoms like pain, swelling, stiffness and redness in the joints of the patients. In severe cases it may cause excessive damage to the bone and joint cartilage thus leading to joint replacement therapy.
Such treatments are not only costly but also result in serious mental and physical troubles to the patients. Thus the use of alternate treatment options has become quite common among the patients with arthritis.
These include herbal treatment, different exercises, massages, physiotherapy, diet modifications or homeopathy.
The easiest and the safest of all these remedies is the one that includes a natural food as that could be included without much consultation with your health care provider.
A health food for Arthritis – Avocado
Most of the studies conducted on avocados regarding arthritis have been done using avocado-soybean unsaponifiables (ASU).
It contains specific proportions (1:2) of both Avocado oil and Soybean oils produced by pressing oils out of the fruits of plants listed.
Hydrolysis is done and Triglycerides from the oil are then removed which leaves a mixture of sterols, squalene vitamins etc. in soluble fats.
ASU has been widely considered for treatment of osteoarthritis in Europe.
1 Antioxidants in avocado benefit in arthritis
A close connection between oxidative stress and arthritis has been revealed. Increased production of free radicals or reactive oxygen species and reduced antioxidant defense systems can lead to development of oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress, uncontrolled has known to damage different tissues and organs. In arthritis, levels of catalase, Glutathione, Vitamin C, GPx are highly reduced. All these are different antioxidants or antioxidant enzymes that combat oxidative stress.
Increased Lipid peroxidation(lipids can undergo oxidation in order to produce peroxides than can is responsible for increased oxidative stress and possible tissue damage) was also seen in arthritis patients.
This increased lipid peroxidation and lack of antioxidants can damage synovial fluid cavity.(It a type of joint surrounded by a thick membrane. The space inside the joint is filled with a fluid that helps keep joints lubricated)
Treatment with antioxidants can prevent further oxidative injury and deterioration of musculoskeletal deficits association with arthritis.
ASU contains phytosterols, beta -sitosterols, campesterol, stigmasterol, fat soluble vitamins, triterpene fatty acids etc.
ASU works to suppress molecules responsible for inflammation and stimulates collagen synthesis.
What does this mean?
ASU is rich in antioxidants such that It can prevent further damage related to arthritis.
2. Avocados help control inflammation
Arthritis is characterized by inflammation. This inflammation could be due to physical trauma or overload on a joint(osteoarthritis) or because of autoimmune attack (rheumatoid arthritis).
In both the cases, inflammation can lead to swelling, tender joints that are limited in the range of motion and cause a lot of pain. Tackling the problem in its roots, that is reducing inflammation can greatly reduce the chronicity of arthritis.
Studies on animal models using ASUs have shown that It can affect various inflammatory molecules present in active chondrocytes (cells secreting cartilage as matrix and are subsequently embedded in them) and suppress them. They also inhibit / modify the gene expression of molecules that trigger further inflammation.
This is done by primarily suppressing pro-inflammatory cytokine. (cytokine proteins that trigger inflammation). ASU was also found to boost collagen production in chondrocytes in laboratory conditions.
Boosting collagen production is beneficial since collagen is the most abundant protein found in mammals. It is an important component in cartilage and contributes to its health.
Rheumatoid arthritis is often accompanied by synovial pannus formation. Synovial pannus is characterized by proliferating (rapidly increasing in number) synovial cells, the presence of macrophages (immune cells) as well as other inflammatory cells and production of new capillaries. The pannus formed is attributed to having a tumor like characteristics.
ASU was able to inhibit the protein VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) responsible for the formation of new capillaries. It also suppressed factors responsible for inflammation. These combined actions attenuated pannus formation as well.
Sterols present in ASUs have been attributed to its anti-inflammatory effect
What does this mean?
Avocado unsaponifiables can control inflammation and prevent joint degradation and damage.
3. Avocado soybean unsaponifiable reduce pain better than painkillers
Conventional painkillers prescribed to manage pain in arthritis are either not effective in managing pain or at high doses cause gastric erosion.
ASU has been tested in arthritis management. The effect of ASU on hip and knee arthritis were studied. This trial was conducted over a period of six months.
The Lequsne index (to indicate severity of osteoarthritis) was reduced in the group that took ASU supplements. Further, the use of Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to manage pain also decreased by 48%.
In another study, ASU were administered at doses 300mg and 600 mg in order to study its effects. Both the doses were effective and the use of analgesics and NSAIDs decreased by a massive 71% at the end of the 3-month trial.
What does this mean?
Avocado soybean unsaponifiables help to attenuate pain and reduce dependence on painkillers.
4. It protects joint health
Laboratory studies have proven that ASUs can prevent cartilage degeneration and reduce inflammation.
Arthritis is characterized by reduced of Aggrecan, a cartilage specific core protein. ASUs stimulate aggrecan synthesis in chondrocytes (cells found in cartilage). They also stimulate collagen and proteoglycan production. ASUs also helped suppress inflammation and reduce pain.
Interestingly, Leaves of the avocado plant have been attributed to having anti-inflammatory and pain reducing( analgesic properties). This has been the reason for its wide use in traditional medicine too.
Though the mechanism largely remained unknown, the benefits of ASU was credited to sterols present.
Scientists found a correlation between a number of sterols present in the ASU and its ability to stimulate Chondrocyte cells.
Sterols are also known to have antioxidant activity that could have helped in cartilage repair and protection.
What does this mean?
ASUs have been known to reduce inflammation, enhance cartilage repair and reduce stiffness in joints. This can reduce the dependency on analgesics help individuals lead a better quality of life.
5. Micronutrients in avocado benefit in arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by an immune attack on joints that can lead to swelling and joint inflammation. Over the time loss of joint function is also observed. It primarily affects hands and feet.
As discussed previously Oxidative stress is common in arthritis. Further, Diminished levels of antioxidants can lead to joint damage that is often seen in those suffering from arthritis.
Studies have proven that a diet rich in vitamins and minerals have significant effects on arthritis related complications, such as pain, stiffness and inflammation. Avocados contain Vitamins E, C , zinc and even Selenium
Vitamin E, Vitamin C, selenium can reduce lipid peroxidation and reduce the accumulation of reactive oxygen species and in turn decrease oxidative stress.
Vitamin E can trigger the gene expression of catalase, Gpx and superoxide dismutase(SOD). All these are antioxidant enzymes.
Zinc Is known to strengthen the immune system and selenium is known to act as a cofactor to the antioxidant enzyme, SOD .
What does this mean?
Vitamins and minerals present in avocado can help control clinical outcomes related to rheumatoid arthritis and control oxidative stress.
6. Avocados improve metabolic health.
People with rheumatoid arthritis often develop metabolic syndrome. One is considered to suffer from metabolic syndrome if they contain atleast 3 out of 5 medical conditions.
2)Elevated blood pressure
3)Elevated glucose level
4)High serum triglycerides
5) low HDL (good cholesterol levels)
Having low levels of HDL and high levels of triglycerides can lead to the development of atherosclerosis, characterized by narrowing of lumen of arteries due to deposition of plaque ( consists of WBCs, cholesterol and triglycerides.) Having atherosclerosis increases the risks of stroke, heart attacks etc.
Other than this, obese people, in general, are likely to suffer from osteoarthritis as well. Obesity related OA largely affects knees.
Avocados have been known to combat metabolic syndrome and retard related complications. Avocados are rich in MUFAs that can lower risks of cardiovascular diseases. They help prevent oxidation due to the nature of their double bonds.
MUFAs lower the level of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and its susceptibility to oxidation, thereby reducing plaque formation. They are also rich in vitamin C and E that are antioxidants and prevent oxidation of LDL. All these components of Avocados help exert an anti-atherogenic effect on body.
Studies have also shown that ASUs used to treat arthritis exert a cholesterol lowering effect as well. They have been able to lower the levels of oxidized LDL.
Avocados also helped in managing weight and reducing waist circumference. This can help combat obesity. MUFAs are known to treat obesity and decrease waist size. Treating obesity will help in prevent osteoarthritis. It can also fight obesity related complications seen in people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
What does this mean: Avocados can lead to weight loss that might first handedly prevent the development of osteoarthritis in obese patients. They can also combat metabolic syndrome associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
How can you include Avocadoes in your diet?
Avocadoes can be included in many forms in the diet as they are safe in most of the forms. They can be consumed as a fruit or else taken as an ASU tablet.
Avocado oil can even be used for topical application to heal skin infections and psoriasis. Though there are no reports of any serious side effects due to prolonged use among patients, still the oral doses of ASU must be taken for a maximum period of six months.
Similarly, topical application of skin cream containing avocado oil is safe for use for a maximum of 3 months.
The safe dosage of Avocado/soybean unsaponifiables is 300 mg. This must be consumed daily for a span of 3 to 6 months to observe beneficial effects. These tablets are easily available in market in order to treat osteoarthritis .
Again avocado can even be consumed as a fruit. But owing to its high fat content, it is quite high in calories. Thus it is advisable to eat about half to full avocado on a daily basis to witness its positive health benefits.
To treat symptoms of psoriasis avocado oil is available in the form of Softgel and can be applied daily at the affected area to get good results .
The following precautions must be taken while using avocado in any form:
- Avoid excessive intake of Avocado as a medicine or fruit as it might show some adverse reactions.
- Some people are allergic to avocadoes. Thus they must avoid taking avocado in any form as it might result in side effects like vomiting, itching, skin reddening, anaphylaxis, bronchial asthma, eczema, or intestinal spasms.
- Patients with high calories or those who are on calorie-restricted diet must limit the use of avocadoes.
- Due to lack of information, it is advisable for the nursing mothers and pregnant ladies to avoid using avocado as a medicine. However they can use it as a fruit within normal food limits.
- Avocado is known to interact with Warfarin. Hence patients who are on this drug must avoid consuming avocado in any form to avoid the risk of internal clotting.
Natural treatments are an effective way to treat disease symptoms in arthritis owing to the reduced side effects and numerous health benefits. The nutrients available from natural sources enable them to strengthen the immunity and enrich the body with vital vitamins and minerals thus providing vitality to the functioning of most of the organ systems. One such natural item with tremendous health benefit is Avocado.
The nutrients available from natural sources enable them to strengthen the immunity and enrich the body with vital vitamins and minerals thus providing vitality to the functioning of most of the organ systems. One such natural item with tremendous health benefit is Avocado.
Research has shown the avocado in highly effective in ameliorating the joint inflammation and cartilage damage in case of osteoarthritis. It is easily available in the form of gel and ASU tablets in the market but the safest and easiest way to enjoy its benefits is by consuming it raw as a fruit.