Here’s a refreshing way to protect your creaky knees: Reach for a bottle of milk. Preliminary research says that milk can be a useful tool for women to slow the progression of osteoarthritis of the knee.
In a study led by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, more than 2100 men and women with knee arthritis completed a diet questionnaire. The participants also had their knees x-rayed at the beginning of the study, and again at intervals of 12, 24, 36 and 48 months.
The study showed that drinking more fat-free or reduced-fat milk slowed joint damage in women, but not in men. Women who drank the most milk—more than 7 glasses per week—had the least progression.
But not all dairy foods were as helpful. Whole milk and yogurt had no effect for men or women, and arthritis actually sped up in women who ate high amounts of cheese. The study was published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research.
Of course, the study can’t prove a cause-and-effect relationship, and the researchers don’t yet know how reduced-fat milk protects joints, or why it seems to help only in women.
There are plenty of reasons to drink more milk, though. It’s a great source of calcium, vitamin D, potassium, and protein. Its bone-health benefits are well known, but it may also help lower blood pressure.
More Ways to Help Your Knees
Drinking milk isn’t the only dietary change you can make to improve your joint health.
- Have a snack of strawberries. They deliver vitamin C, which some research suggests slows the progression of osteoarthritis.
- Serve salmon for dinner. It’s loaded with vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, which can curb inflammation and pain.
- Add alliums to your diet for arthritis and hip pain. What are they? Something you probably already use in your dishes: garlic and onions.
- Get grapes for a little bit of comfort in your knees. The resveratrol in grapes may soothe joints—and it actually helps your heart as well.