A change in diet can reduce the intense pain caused by knee osteoarthritis, the most prominent form of arthritis, according to research findings published this week in the journal Pain Medicine.

A study conducted at the University of Alabama at Birmingham shows a low-carbohydrate diet was more effective in reducing pain intensity than a low-fat diet in adults ages 65-75 suffering from osteoarthritis. Researchers in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences also found the low-carb diet specifically increased the quality of life and decreased serum levels of the adipokine leptin and a marker of oxidative stress.

“Our work shows people can reduce their pain with a change in diet,” said Robert Sorge, Ph.D., lead author of the study and director of the PAIN Collective in the UAB Department of Psychology. “Many medications for pain cause a host of side effects that may require other drugs to reduce. The beneficial side effects of our diet may be things such as reduced risk for heart disease, diabetes and weight loss — something many drugs cannot claim.”

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