By naturopath Margaret Jasinska
Keeping your cartilage is something people think more about as they get older. It’s natural to lose cartilage as you age, but if you lose it more rapidly than your body can replace it, or lose it at a relatively young age, you may be left with aching joints and a bad back. Several things can contribute to cartilage loss.
A study published in the journal Radiology has found that obesity contributes to rapid cartilage loss.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It causes loss of cartilage, inflammation, pain and stiffness in the joints. The most commonly affected joints are the knees, hips and joints of the lower back and neck.
In many cases osteoarthritis progresses slowly; it can take several decades for substantial cartilage loss to occur, and symptoms of pain and stiffness usually occur gradually and may come and go. However, researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine have found that in overweight people, cartilage loss and osteoarthritis can progress rapidly.
A high Body Mass Index (BMI) was the greatest predictor of who would lose cartilage the fastest in a study involving 3,026 people aged 50 to 79 years. Other predictors of rapid cartilage loss were tears and previous injuries to joints, and synovitis (inflammation of the synovial membrane of a joint). Age, gender and ethnicity were not associated with rapid cartilage loss.
For every 1 unit increase in BMI above 26, the risk of cartilage loss increased by 11 percent. An ideal BMI is considered to be between 18.5 and 24.9.
The researchers of this study concluded that “weight loss is probably the most important factor to slow disease progression”.
There is a lot of truth in that statement, but there are plenty of slim people with terrible joints! Inflammation is a huge contributor of cartilage loss. Several different things can contribute to raised inflammation, including autoimmune disease, allergies, chronic infections, gut problems and type 2 diabetes (even in people who aren’t overweight).