Osteoarthritis is the inflammation of the joints (hands, knee, hips or spine) caused by degradation of cartilage.
Cartilage is a tissue which is present as a covering at the ends of the bones.
Its function is to cushion between the joints to avoid shock on bones due to movement.
Cartilage also secretes synovial fluid between the joints to ease the movement by providing lubrication.
In osteoarthritis, the top layer of cartilage degrades making bones of joints to rub against each other leading to inflammation, pain and posing difficulty in motion.
With time, osteoarthritis can also make the joints lose their usual shape and sometimes bits of bone may come off and float between the joint space which causes further damage and pain.
Main factors in the development of osteoarthritis are old age, being overweight, injury or stress on joints and some genetic defect in the cartilage.
The treatment of this disease includes mostly non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or other analgesics.
In extreme cases, there may be a requirement of joint replacement surgery such as that of the knee.
The medicines only reduce pain and do not have a modifying effect on the cartilage. Moreover, these also have many side-effects.
This is the reason there has been an increasing demand for some alternatives that show better results.
One such alternative in the case of osteoarthritis is avocado.
What is avocado?
Avocado (Persea americana) is a fruit native to southern Mexico. It is a popular fruit cultivated all over the tropical and Mediterranean regions.
This fruit is popularly used in salads, smoothies or desserts. It is considered a very nutritious fruit and widely eaten by those who want to lose weight.
The flesh of this fruit is loaded with nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and fibre.
It has low fat content and is known to lower bad cholesterol levels in the body.
4 Benefits of Avocado in Osteoarthritis
Avocado is rich in vitamins ( vitamins B6, B12, C, D, E & K) , fibre, carotenoids like β-carotene & lutein, monounsaturated fatty acids, folate and minerals ( Potassium, Iron, Calcium, Magnesium & Copper).
These components enable avocado to have anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and chondroprotective (cartilage protective) actions. These properties make it beneficial in osteoarthritis.
1. Avocado has anti-inflammatory action
Osteoarthritis involves inflammatory responses in the synovial fluid.
This response is mediated by pro-inflammatory molecules like cytokines, prostaglandins (especially, prostaglandin E2), interleukins, etc.
Targeting these molecules can is a practical approach to reduce the pain related to this disease.
Avocado’s unsaponifiable (oil component that does not form soap with salts like sodium hydroxide) fraction is known to have a strong anti-inflammatory action in osteoarthritis pain.
Several studies have shown that avocado along with soybean unsaponifiable fractions are able to inhibit the expression of the pro-inflammatory molecules like prostaglandin E2, COX-2, IL-1β (an interleukin) etc in the cartilage.
This reduces the pain in osteoarthritis patients.
Vitamin E is also known to have an anti-inflammatory response in osteoarthritis by the same suppressing action on pro-inflammatory molecules.
Avocado, being rich in vitamin E further proves its efficacy in osteoarthritis pain reduction.
What does it mean? Including avocado in diet can be very effective in reducing the pain and inflammation caused by osteoarthritis.
2. Avocado anti-oxidants reduce oxidative stress in arthritis
Oxidative stress plays an important role in the occurrence of osteoarthritis. Overproduction of reactive oxygen species (ROS) causes damage to the cartilage.
It has been found that the external supplementation of antioxidants is capable of reducing the oxidative stress and hence, the cartilage damage and the progression of osteoarthritis.
Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) has been found to prevent cartilage damage by interfering with the pathways of production of reactive oxygen species.
Avocado is rich in Vitamin C hence, it has the potential to reduce oxidative stress in this disease.
The lipophilic fraction of avocados such as monounsaturated fatty acids, carotenes, tocopherols ( Vitamin E), acetogenins and sterols have shown strong anti-oxidant capability in a study.
Folate deficiency is known to trigger the death of synoviocytes (produce synovial fluid) by the production of reactive oxygen species.
This condition is also a factor in the development of osteoarthritis. This suggests that supplementation of folate can be beneficial.
This folate deficiency can be overcome by the use of avocado as it is rich in folate as well.
What does it mean? It means intake of avocado can enrich the body with various anti-oxidants. These anti-oxidants are capable of reducing the oxidative stress. This results in prevention of cartilage damage that can not only provide relief in pain but also prevent the occurrence of this disease.
3. It has a chondroprotective effect
Chondrocytes are the cells of cartilage. Adverse effects on these cells promote the degradation of the cartilage.
These adverse effects on the chondrocytes are caused primarily by the pro-inflammatory molecules and the reactive oxygen species.
The combined anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant action of avocado show chondroprotective effects.
Avocado soybean unsaponifiables have been found to promote cartilage repair in case of osteoarthritis.
There have also been findings that deficiency of Vitamin B6 can cause damage to cartilage.
Avocado being a source of Vitamin B6 can be beneficial in reducing the cartilage damage due to its deficiency.
What does it mean? Consumption of avocado is very beneficial in osteoarthritis as its combined actions can protect chondrocytes. This protection is useful in treatment as well as prevention of this disease.
4. Avocado can help in weight loss
Obesity is a very important factor in the onset of osteoarthritis. Excess body weight causes undue pressure on the joints especially those of knees and hips.
Weight loss is very important to relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis in the patients. More importantly, with the maintenance of ideal weight occurrence of osteoarthritis can be prevented.
In cases of knee osteoarthritis, weight loss has shown positive results resulting in improved knee function.
Avocado is an ideal food product for losing weight. It is loaded with nutrients, fibres and low in cholestrols, which is beneficial in weight management.
Avocado is a very good food option during weight loss as it leads to a feeling of the full stomach for a long time, indirectly making one take fewer calories.
At the same time, it provides with the nutrients required for healthy functioning of the body.
Replacement of unhealthy dietary fat with polyunsaturated fatty acids in avocado can help in weight loss.
What does it mean? It means avocado can assist in weight loss. Its nutrient content is ideal for weight management.
Dosage of Avocado For Osteoarthritis
Avocado is a versatile fruit. Its flesh can be eaten as it is or can be incorporated into salads, desserts, etc.
For osteoarthritis, one avocado can be eaten every day reap its benefits.
Avocado oils are also available which can be used in cooking or dressings of salads.
Another way of consuming avocado in osteoarthritis is in the form of avocado soybean unsaponifiable medicine. It is recommended to be taken about 300 mg per day.
Avocado is generally considered safe for consumption, especially in the fruit form. However, there are some precautions to be taken.
Avocado can cause latex allergy. Latex allergy is caused by some food products that have proteins found in latex present in them.
Avocado is one such fruit. The allergy may cause itching, redness on the skin, vomiting, etc.
Avocado should be avoided with certain medications. Consuming avocado when on medication of warfarin (a blood thinning medicine) can cause some adverse effects in the body, such as blood clotting.
For other medicines also, its consumption should be verified by medical experts.
Overdose of Avocado soybean unsaponifiables (ASU) can cause liver damage. It has been found that ASU can cause liver damage so it should be consumed with medical expert’s advice only.
Its excess consumption should also be avoided.
Avocado unsaponifiables consumption should be avoided during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
Consuming avocado in large amounts can upset the stomach and cause irritations in the stomach.
Avocado is a highly beneficial food for osteoarthritis. Avocado nutrients are capable of reducing the pain and repair the damage in the cartilage.
This is a very useful medication as allopathic medicines only reduce the pain. They have no repairing action on the cartilage.
Consumption of avocado is useful in weight management too as weight loss is crucial in obese osteoarthritis patients.
Intake of avocado combined with exercise can have significant effects on the treatment of osteoarthritis.