Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis which mainly occurs because of aging or any injury to bone where there is destruction in the cartilage tissue. It is therefore describes as ‘wear and tear’ arthritis.
Main symptoms of this disease include pain, joint inflammation, stiffness and swelling. It mainly affect people in their older age. Reports have shown that arthritis affects 52.5 million U.S adults which means more than 1 in 5, thus becoming the most common disease in this country.
Researchers have proved that some foods and their supplements have strong effect in minimizing the symptom of joint related health problems such as in osteoarthritis patients.
It is suggested that diet rich in anti-inflammatory nutrient’s and omega 3 fatty acids (fish liver oil, walnuts, flaxseeds, soybeans) whereas bright coloured fruits and vegetables (oranges, apples, avocados, berries, prunes, kiwi etc.) rich in carotenoids and antioxidants have shown considerable effects in reducing the pain and inflammation in osteoarthritis And hence play promising role as a part of dietary treatment in osteoarthritis.
Avocados for Osteoarthritis
Avocado belongs to the flowering plant family Lauracaea and was originally known as “ahuacati” by the Aztecs in Mexico. Initially avocado was considered as a vegetable but later it was cleared that it’s a ‘pear shaped’ or ‘egg-shaped’ fruit with dry green skin and fleshy body inside.
They are mostly cultivated in tropical and temperate climates such as in California where the highest production of this fruit is found. There are about eighty varieties of this fruit cultivated. Among which Hass avocados are found to be the most common one.
Avocados are rich in vitamins, fibre, protein and fat content that plays important role in controlling number of ailments such as it reduces the risk of arthritis, diabetes, stroke and coronary artery disease, helps in lowering cholesterol level, promote healthy body weight and helps in preventing the development of certain types of cancer hence considered as one of the “super food”.
Avocados are rich in fat content but, the fat contained in it is unusual and has good health benefits. The unusual fat content consist of three parts. First are the phytosterols and avocado are considered to be one of the richest food containing them.
These phytosterols (such as beta-sitosterol, campesterol and stigmasterol) plays major role in enhancing cardiovascular health but also believed to have anti-inflammatory properties which makes them an ideal food for arthritis patients. Second component of fat are known as polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols (PFAs).
PFAs are fatty alcohols which are widely found in ocean plants and very rare in land plants thus making avocados a unique food in its content. Like phytosterols, PFAs are also believed to have anti-inflammatory properties which again helps in reducing the inflammation in joint pains. Third component of avocados fat content is the unusually high amount of its fatty acid called oleic acid. It accounts for half the component of avocados fat content similar to those found in olives and olive oil.
Oleic acid is a common monounsaturated fatty acid that helps in decreasing low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and increases high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (good cholesterol). Studies have reported that oleic acid also plays important part as an anti-inflammatory acid by playing vital role in the activation of different pathway of immune competent cells.
As we know, in arthritis especially osteoarthritis there is progressive deterioration of joint cartilage which in turn result in impairment of its function resulting in pain, swelling and stiffness. And studies have shown that oxidative and inflammatory stress in body can further increase this deterioration leading to more damage of joint cartilage.
Here avocados plays important role in decreasing this oxidative and inflammatory stress due to the presence of large number of xanthophyll carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin which are rich in anti-oxidant properties. Thus these package of carotenoids present in the fruit decreases the risk of cartilage defects which otherwise can lead to early signs of osteoarthritis.
Secondly, in arthritis there is increase in production of inflammatory mediators such as prostaglandins which are responsible for causing inflammation and deterioration of cartilage.
Studies have shown that fatty acids found in avocado blocks the production of inflammatory mediators from chondrocytes, macrophages and other specialized cells activated by immune system thus decreasing the inflammation and damage to cartilage of bones.
These good fatty acids also helps in maintaining healthy cartilage and tissues. Hence these compounds are called anti-inflammatory substance and are used in dietary supplements in treatment of different types of arthritis.
Promising Arthritis Natural Treatment: Avocado/ Soybean Unsaponifiables (ASUs) Avocado/Soybean: Unsaponifiables (ASUs) are vegetable compound extracts taken from avocado and soybean oil in the ratio of (1avocado:2 soybean), are successfully used in natural treatment for arthritis.
As it is not possible to eat soybean and avocado oil in large quantity everyday even though they having strong positive effect in reducing inflammation and pain in arthritis patients, hence these compounds are extracted from these foods and concentrated into soft gel supplements which can be given to patient daily.
Studies were carried out using these special extracts of avocado and soybeans (300mg of ASUs) where it was found significant decrease in pain and joint improvement in those suffering from osteoarthritis of knee and hip. This is basically because ASU fractions are considered to be anti-inflammatory compounds having both antioxidant and analgesic activities. They also have ability to decrease pro-inflammatory mediators such as interleukins, prostaglandins, reduce the production of degradative enzymes and increase aggrecan synthesis.
A comparison study was carried out to demonstrate the symptomatic effects of 300mg and 600mg of ASU and placebo (NSAIDs analgesic drugs) for 3 months which was given as daily dose to patients of both genders, aged around 45 to 80 years having knee. And the results indicates efficiency of ASU was superior to these analgesic drugs in treatment of knee osteoarthritis.
Aggrecan is a large proteoglycan molecule which plays vital role in maintaining cartilage structure and function. Other studies have also reported that ASU has ability to stimulate production of collagen fibres, which forms natural components of muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints thus helping in faster recovery from joint problems.
Researchers have also identified that ASU fractions facilitate the cartilage repair in osteoarthritis by having positive effect on osteoblast (cells that help in synthesise and formation of bone). In another study, it showed when chondrocytes isolated from osteoarthritis cartilage were cultured, SC (sclerotic) osteoblast induced significant inhibition of matric protein production and resulted in increase of MMP (matrix metalloproteinase) synthesis of chondrocytes.
But when osteoblast were treated with ASU fraction, these fractions totally prevented their inhibitory effect on matrix protein and there was significant increase in production of collagen mRNA level. Therefore this findings clearly indicated that ASU compounds helps in promoting osteoarthritis cartilage repair by acting on subchondrol bone osteoblast.
In one vitro studies, where effect of ASU fractions were carried out on treatment and development of osteoarthritic structural changes in bone ligament of dog model. ASU fractions were reported to have positive effect in stimulating the expression of transforming growth factors (TGF) level in knee synovial fluid and prevented the deleterious effect of interleukins on synovial cells.
The synovial fluid is a very important part of bone structure as it act as a lubricant which helps in easy movement of joints. Thus any defect in synovial fluid cells can lead to stiffness and pain in joints. Another study in vivo, indicated that ASU fractions were found to prevent occurrence of lesions in cartilage tissue and improved the subchondral bone structure significantly. Thus ASU is considered to be currently one of the most natural effective treatment for arthritis.
Avocados are rich source of minerals such as potassium and magnesium. As we know magnesium plays key important role as a cofactor for cellular enzymes in energy metabolism, potassium helps in controlling blood pressure. Calcium and magnesium found in avocados are crucial for bone and joint development. Magnesium at some extent is believed to relive muscular discomfort associated with arthritis thus helping muscles to relax.
The presence of vitamins also makes this fruit ideal for many diseases including arthritis because it has good amount of vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin K and vitamin E. The antioxidant activity of these vitamins especially vitamin A, C and E helps to reduce the oxidative damage associated with joint inflammation in arthritis. Vitamin B and C helps in your body metabolism and healthy skin where vitamin K plays crucial role in strengthening bones.
Studies have shown vitamin K especially vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) functions as a coenzyme in biological synthesis of various proteins which in turn play vital role in blood coagulation and bone metabolism. Bone metabolism is a process where old bone tissues formed due to aging or injury are removed and replaced by new bone tissue and thus plays important part in curing joint problems in arthritis.
How to include avocados in diet?
As avocados are loaded with healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, they can be incorporated in regular diet to obtain their all health benefits. Some simple tips to use avocado in diet are as follows:
- Make use of avocadoes slices in sandwiches and on toast as a substitute for butter, mayonnaise or cream to reduce the intake of cholesterol, calories, saturated fat and sodium.
- Diced or mashed avocados forms an excellent dip for chips, veggie sticks or other snacks. You can stuff them into burgers with lettuce, cabbage and other vegetables, they taste delicious.
- Try to incorporate this fruit pieces along with your favourites fruits in fruit salads, ice cream, puddings and cakes.
- You cake make delicious milkshake or smoothie using pulp of this fruit with milk and sugar. They can be also mixed with other fruits like bananas.
- The easiest way to use this fruit is to eat it plain in its natural way just like other fruits. You can peel the outer skin smoothly and scoop the inner pulp and eat it or slice it.
- You can sprinkle pinch of lemon juice on slices of avocado just for the twist.
How much Avocados one can take ?
As avocados are high in calories, it is normally recommended to eat half or one full avocado daily to get its most health benefits. But health experts always advice to choose different types of fruits for 7 days so that body gets all types nutrition from all types of fruits.
The oil of avocado is available in the form of supplement and can also be used for cooking purpose other than its medicinal use.
Otherwise it is mainly used directly on skin to treat various skin ailments. Avocado oil/soy oil unsaponifiable fractions (ASUs) have shown effective relief from pain and inflammation for knee osteoarthritis when used in the dosage of 300mg and 600mg, therefore 300mg of this ASU fractions are mainly used for treatment of osteoarthritis patient.
One common side effect of avocado intake is allergy or hypersensitivity of some people towards this fruit. People who are allergic to fruits like banana and chestnuts also are commonly allergic avocados because of the enzyme present called chitinase which are mainly associated with latex-fruit allergy syndrome.
The symptoms of allergic reactions are skin reactions, vomiting, bronchial asthma and angioedema. This fruit is also found to interact with number of drugs mostly blood thinning and anti-inflammatory medicines such as aspirin, warfarin, and ibuprofen. Avocados may also react with cholesterol lowering medications.
Therefore it is highly recommended to take medical advice before consume this fruit along with other medicines.
Thus to conclude “Eating avocados regularly can prevent the risk of developing all type of arthritis including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis and reduce the joint pain and swelling in those who are already suffering from arthritis problems”.
Hence the main aim of this article is to spread the awareness that simple home remedies such as incorporating valuable and medicinal fruits like avocados in your diet can keep you away from many ailments.
But on the other hand it should also be noted that they show various side effects when used along with other medications and hence should be consumed only after taking proper medical help.