London: They are two of the most pungent
vegetables which leave a foul bad breath odour in one`s mouth,
but a study claims that tucking into a diet full of garlic and
onions could reduce a person`s risk of developing arthritis.
Researchers at King`s College London and University of
East Anglia investigated possible links between a diet rich in
garlic and onions and the painful joint disease -- they found
that women who ate a lot of allium vegetables had lower levels
of hip osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis
in adults. It causes pain and disability by affecting the hip,
knees and spine in the middle-aged and elderly population. At
present, there`s no effective treatment other than pain relief
and, ultimately, joint replacement.
A relationship is known to exist between body weight
and osteoarthritis but this was the first research to actually
delve deeper into how diet could impact on development and
prevention of the condition, the `Daily Mail` reported.
The study, funded by Arthritis Research UK, the
Wellcome Trust and Dunhill Medical Trust, looked at over 1,000
healthy female twins, many of whom had no arthritis symptoms.
The researchers carried out a detailed assessment of
the diet patterns of the twins and analysed these alongside
x-ray images, which captured the extent of osteoarthritis in
the participants` hips, knees and spine.
They found that in those who consumed a healthy
diet with a high intake of fruit and vegetables, particularly
alliums such as garlic, there was less evidence of early
osteoarthritis in the hip joint. To investigate the potential protective effect of
allium vegetables further, researchers studied the compounds
found in garlic. They found that that a compound, diallyl
disulphide, limits the amount of cartilage-damaging enzymes
when introduced to a human cartilage cell-line in the lab.
Dr Frances Williams, lead author from the Department
of Twin Research at King`s College London, said: "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 treatment and prevention of hip osteoarthritis.
"If our results are confirmed by follow-up
studies, this will point the way towards dietary intervention
or targeted drug therapy for people with osteoarthritis."
Added co-author Professor Ian Clark of the University
of East Anglia: "Osteoarthritis is a major health issue and
this exciting study shows the potential for diet to influence
the course of the disease.
"With further work to confirm and extend these early
findings, this may open up the possibility of using diet or
dietary supplements in the future treatment osteoarthritis."
The findings have been published in the `BMC
Musculoskeletal Disorders` journal.