Can Garlic and Onions Keep Arthritis at Bay?

Stinky veggies may be key to joint health

Would you give up sweet-smelling breath for a lifetime of healthy joints? A new study has found that garlic and its allium family members may ward off more than vampires. According to research published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders journal, women whose diets contain the most garlic, onions and leeks 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, assessed 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 -- at least in a Petri dish.

"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.

Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, is caused by the breakdown and loss of cartilage -- a protein that cushions the bones of the joints. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 27 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis. Doctors still don’t know why arthritis occurs in some people and not others. They do know, however, that certain factors, like obesity, joint injuries and family history, put people at greater risk of the degenerative joint disease. There is no cure or effective treatment for arthritis, except for pain management techniques, such as painkillers and meditation, and joint replacement surgery.

Study leaders say it is too soon to tell if eating loads of garlic can prevent arthritis, but they hope their research will pave the way for new treatments. In the meantime, if you love garlic and onions, it can’t hurt to add more to your diet. No promises however that your coworkers and loved ones will feel the same way.

Would you be willing to devour a daily dose of garlic to keep arthritis away? Chime in below.

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