FoodFacts.com is aware that arthritis is a debilitating condition that affects millions worldwide. The most common form, osteoarthritis is associated with the destruction of cartilage in the joints. It’s quite painful for those who are afflicted and is normally associated with age and obesity.

Today we read that new research findings have linked a compound found in broccoli to the prevention and/or slowing of this agonizing condition.
Coming out of the University of East Anglia, in the United Kingdom, results from the laboratory study show that sulforaphane slows down the destruction of joint cartilage in osteoarthritis. The researchers found that mice fed a diet rich in the compound had significantly less cartilage damage and osteoarthritis than those that were not.

Sulforaphane is released when eating cruciferous vegetables such as Brussel sprouts and cabbage, but particularly broccoli. Previous research has suggested that sulforaphane has anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, but this is the first major study into its effects on joint health.

The researchers discovered that sulforaphane blocks the enzymes that cause joint destruction by stopping a key molecule known to cause inflammation. They wanted to find out if the compound got into joints in sufficient amounts to be effective and their findings are published today in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism.

There is currently no cure or effective treatment for the disease other than pain relief, which is often inadequate, or joint replacement.

The study involved researchers from UEA’s schools of Biological Sciences, Pharmacy and Norwich Medical School, along with the University of Oxford and Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

Researchers from the School of Biological Sciences and Norwich Medical School are now embarking on a small scale trial in osteoarthritis patients due to have knee replacement surgery, to see if eating broccoli has similar effects on the human joint. If successful, they hope it will lead to funding for a large scale clinical trial to show the effect of broccoli on osteoarthritis, joint function and pain itself.

Ian Clark, professor of musculoskeletal biology at UEA and the lead researcher, said: “The results from this study are very promising. We have shown that this works in the three laboratory models we have tried, in cartilage cells, tissue and mice. We now want to show this works in humans. As well as treating those who already have the condition, you need to be able to tell healthy people how to protect their joints into the future. There is currently no way in to the disease pharmaceutically and you cannot give healthy people drugs unnecessarily, so this is where diet could be a safe alternative.”

FoodFacts.com is fascinated by the idea that eating more broccoli could have such a direct effect on osteoarthritis. Healthy diet as preventative medicine is always an exciting concept. Gaining more understanding about how compounds in natural, whole foods interact with our bodies to prevent serious diseases and debilitating conditions is the best direction in which science can move.

Read more about this fascinating study: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130827204039.htm