British researchers believe that eating lots of broccoli may slow down and even prevent osteoarthritis.
The University of East Anglia team is starting human trials following on from successful lab studies.
Tests on cells and mice showed that a broccoli compound – which humans can also get from Brussels sprouts and cabbage – blocked a key destructive enzyme that damages cartilage.
Researchers are asking 20 patients to eat a daily dose of “super-charged” broccoli.
This special cruciferous vegetable has been bred to be extra rich in nutrients – it is a cross between standard broccoli and a wild relative from Sicily.
Our body takes this glucoraphanin compound and turns it into another, called sulforaphane, which appears to protect the joints.
The volunteers will have two weeks on the diet before going under the knife to have their badly arthritic knees repaired by surgeons.
Dr. Rose Davidson and her team will look at the tissue that has been removed to see what impact, if any, the broccoli has had.
British researchers believe that eating lots of broccoli may slow down and even prevent osteoarthritis
She said: “We’re asking patients to eat 100 g [3.5oz] every day for two weeks. That’s a normal, good-sized serving – about a handful – and it’s an amount that most people should be happy to eat every day.”
While two weeks is highly unlikely to be enough to cause any big change, Dr. Rose Davidson hopes it will be enough to offer some evidence that “super” broccoli could benefit humans.
“I can’t imagine it would repair or reverse arthritis… but it might be a way to prevent it,” she said.
Her team will be looking for proof that sulforaphane has travelled to where it is needed in the joint and that it is causing beneficial changes at the cellular level.
Another 20 knee replacement patients who have not been on the diet will be used as a comparison group.
Prof. Alan Silman, of Arthritis Research UK, which is funding Dr. Rose Davidson’s work, said: “Until now research has failed to show that food or diet can play any part in reducing the progression of osteoarthritis, so if these findings can be replicated in humans, it would be quite a breakthrough.
“We know that exercise and keeping to a healthy weight can improve people’s symptoms and reduce the chances of the disease progressing, but this adds another layer in our understanding of how diet could play its part.”
The results of Dr. Rose Davidson’s animal trials are published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism.
The special broccoli, known as Beneforte, was developed from publicly funded research at the UK’s Institute of Food Research and the John Innes Centre.
Despite being in her seventies and suffering from arthritis, Jane Fonda remains a keen advocate of fitness for women of all ages – but has learnt from personal experience that it isn’t always easy as you get older.
Jane Fonda, now aged 75, has found she’s had to adapt her own fitness regime to the capabilities of her ageing body. And she has found yoga to be a perfect fit because it can build up muscle strength and tone without being too physically demanding.
“I knew that yoga would make me flexible but was surprised to find that it could also keep me aerobically fit as well as strong,” Jane Fonda said.
Jane Fonda has been doing yoga since the mid-1990s but found as age took its toll, she wasn’t as capable of certain moves.
“As I got older, my osteoarthritis made it difficult to do the same demanding postures,” the actress said.
As a result, Jane Fonda has now come up a yoga routine, aimed at those aged 50 and over, which provides a gentle but effective introduction to the popular form of exercise.
“Having had a knee and hip replacement in the last 10 years as well as back surgery, I needed to find a yoga routine that was safe and effective. I knew that one day I would create a yoga program for folks like me. Well, here it is,” Jane Fonda said of her DVD, AM/PM Yoga For Beginners, which will be released next month.
Jane Fonda has now come up a yoga routine, aimed at those aged 50 and over, which provides a gentle but effective introduction to the popular form of exercise
The workout is aimed specifically at keeping older generations active and includes morning and evening sessions users can choose to follow on any given day.
The morning workout is designed to help participants feel rejuvenated and energized while the evening versions aim to promote relaxation and relieve tension and stress.
Jane Fonda revealed how she fits yoga into her own day: “I do one 10-minute segment in the morning to get me revved up and ready to go and one 10-minute segment in the evening to chill me out. Sometimes with Richard, my honey.”
It seems that the women who have grown up following Jane Fonda’s fitness advice remain as resolute as her to stay active.
A survey commissioned to celebrate the release of the DVD found that 60% of 60-69 year olds agreed that fitness was still important in their lives. An admirable 68% of 70-79 year olds said they continued to exercise regularly.
And those in their 80s said they didn’t want to sit around in their slippers either – with 25% saying they wanted to keep in shape and continue to include fitness in their weekly routine.
British scientists have discovered another eight pieces of genetic code linked to osteoarthritis, bringing the total number to 11.
Inherited factors account for at least half of any individual’s chance of developing this common condition that affects the joints, experts believe.
And understanding these factors could offer up new treatments.
The research in The Lancet compared the DNA of 7,400 UK osteoarthritis patients with that of 11,000 healthy volunteers.
This allowed scientists to find the most promising “culprit” regions of the genetic code to study in more detail.
They repeated their work in another group of 7,500 people with osteoarthritis and about 43,000 individuals without the condition from Iceland, Estonia, the Netherlands, and the UK.
British scientists have discovered another eight pieces of genetic code linked to osteoarthritis, bringing the total number to 11
The results confirmed the three previously reported gene variants and found a further eight linked to osteoarthritis.
Further work is now needed to pinpoint the actual DNA changes within the genetic regions to establish exactly how these changes lead to osteoarthritis.
The one with the strongest effect was situated in the region of the GNL3 gene which produces a protein with an important role in cell maintenance.
Three others were in DNA regions involved in the regulation of cartilage, bone development and body weight.
One of the lead scientists, John Loughlin, who is professor of musculoskeletal research at Newcastle University, said: “We know that osteoarthritis runs in families and that this is due to the genes that people pass on, rather than their shared environment.
“In this study we were able to say with a high degree of confidence which genetic regions are the major risk factors for developing osteoarthritis: the first time that this has been possible for this common yet complex disease. It’s an important first step.”
Prof. Alan Silman, medical director of Arthritis Research UK, the charity that funded the work, said: “Until we understand the cause of this complex disease, we cannot hope to find a cure. This is a major breakthrough in our understanding of osteoarthritis, which we hope will help us to unlock the genetic basis of the disease.”