Influence of diet on outcomes of musculoskeletal and rheumatological diseases

According to original research published in the open-access journal RMD Open, there is little evidence suggesting that the diet plays a major role in the course of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Although there are studies suggesting the role of diet on cardiovascular and mental health outcomes, the effect of dietary factors on rheumatic and musculoskeletal disease outcomes is a matter of debate. James and co-authors conducted pooled data analysis of systematic reviews and meta-analyses of studies on diet and disease outcomes noted in seven rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases namely osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, axial spondyloarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, systemic sclerosis, and gout.

The pooled data analyses revealed that the influence of diet on disease progression was often minimal and not clinically relevant for dietary therapies with moderate evidence (fish oil, chondroitin, glucosamine, vitamin D, avocado, and soybean). Due to the small number of trials and participants, the evidence for most dietary treatments in RA was rated as low or very poor. Probiotics, vitamin D, and fish oil/omega-3 all had moderate quality data, but the benefit was either inconsequential or too small to make a significant difference.

Based on the study findings, the researchers concluded that there is no single dietary intervention that has significant effects on the outcomes of patients with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The study has also highlighted the lack of high-level evidence on individual dietary exposures and outcomes of rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases. Based on the current literature, healthcare experts can advise on the significance of following a healthy weight and healthy diet rather than consuming specific dietary components.

Reference: Gwinnutt JM, Wieczorek M, Rodríguez-Carrio J, et al. Effects of diet on the outcomes of rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs): systematic review and meta-analyses informing the 2021 EULAR recommendations for lifestyle improvements in people with RMDs. RMD Open. 2022;8(2):e002167. Published 2022 May 11.