Fiber may have an “uncool” reputation, but experts agree that it’s one of the most beneficial nutrients to add to your diet. It’s been shown to lower cholesterol levels, decrease inflammation, cut the risk for heart disease, and help people maintain a healthy weight.
Thanks to a large study, a new benefit can be added to the list: Fiber may cut the risk for knee osteoarthritis.
The new study followed two groups of men and women who had knee osteoarthritis or were at risk for it. Among the first group, those who ate the most fiber were 30% less likely to develop knee pain or stiffness than those who ate the least fiber. More than 4,700 people with knee osteoarthritis were followed for 4 years.
The second group, which followed 1,200 for 9 years, had an even more dramatic result: top fiber consumers had a 60% lower risk for knee symptoms than those who consumed the least fiber.1
Researchers think that fiber’s benefits for those with arthritis stem from two factors:
- Fiber creates a feeling a fullness, which can help you eat less and manage weight better. Being overweight is a known risk factor for knee osteoarthritis.
- Fiber can decrease inflammation. Studies have found that fiber intake is inversely associated with levels in the body of C-reactive protein, an inflammatory marker.
How to Add Fiber to Your DietBefore you start dreading having to drink prune juice, know that dietary fiber is found in many items. Fiber-rich foods include fruits and vegetables, beans, peas, nuts, seeds, oats, and whole grain foods.
Here are some great ways to add more fiber to your diet:
- Add kidney or garbanzo beans or lentils to soups and salads
- Instead of drinking juice, eat an orange or apple.
- Switch to the whole grain version of bread, cereals, pasta, and rice.
- Keep raw, cut-up vegetables on hand for snacking. Dip them in yogurt or hummus and enjoy.
- Keep fiber-rich snack options on hand, like unsalted nuts or dried fruit.
With a few small changes to your eating habits, you can help protect your knees, your heart, and more by getting fiber in your diet.
- Dai Z, Niu J, Zhang Y, et al. Dietary intake of fibre and risk of knee osteoarthritis in two US prospective cohorts. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases 2017;76:1411-1419.