How Does Garlic Help Reduce Risk of Osteoarthritis?

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The allium family of vegetables, which includes onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, chives, and scallions, add more than just flavor to your diet, medical experts say, showing that they also add anti-cancer, and antioxidant compounds. New research suggests that the organosulfur compounds in allium family members may also have anti-inflammatory actions that protect against osteoarthritis. This condition is characterized by painful degradation of the cartilage in the joints of the knees, hands, hips, back, and/or neck. It is a common chronic condition among middle-aged and elderly persons, a progressive disease affecting nearly 27 million Americans.

Doctors still do not know why arthritis occurs in some people and others. They do know that certain factors, such as obesity, joint injuries and family history, put people at greater risk of the degenerative joint disease. There is no cure for arthritis, except for pain management techniques, such as painkillers and meditation, and joint replacement surgery. There have been several issues regarding hip implant operations. In fact, it leads to Stryker hip replacement recall due to the complications that the patients experienced.

According to research published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders journal, women whose diets comprise the most of garlic and onions have lower levels of osteoarthritis. Though the connection was strongest for vegetables in the allium family, researchers found that a healthy diet loaded with fruits and vegetables also offered some protective benefit.

The researchers, from King's College London and the University of East Anglia, evaluated the diets of 1,000 female twins and took x-rays of their hips, knees and spines. The team compared the dietary patterns of the women with the least evidence of early osteoarthritis in their hips, and found the garlic and onion connection. To test their theory further, the scientists picked apart various garlic compounds and found that a substance called diallyl disulphide reduces levels of cartilage-damaging enzymes.

DADS is just one of many phytochemicals existing in allium vegetables. When eating these vegetables, thousands of organosulfur compounds, antioxidants, and other micronutrients work together to prevent disease. And when using garlic and onion to flavor a dish of greens, beans, and mushrooms, the additive nutritional benefits from it are outstanding.

"While we don't yet know if eating garlic will lead to high levels of this component in the joint, these findings may point the way towards future treatments and prevention of hip osteoarthritis," said researcher Frances Williams, Ph.D., the study's lead author, in a written statement.
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