Vegetarian Diets and Joint Maintenance - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 08-20-2003, 02:47 PM
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Hi all,

Has anyone heard of such a thing as deteriorating joints after switching to a vegetarian diet? A friend of mine said that the removal of meat from your diet can result in joint problems later. He's a vegetarian and very well read, so I sorta believe it. He mentioned something about a veggie basketball player with bad knees...



The reason I say this, is because my husband has had problems with his knees over the past 6 months or so (we've been veggie for a year now) and he recently had an injury to his right knee, then his left knee started to feel bad, 2 months after the injury. He can't sit cross-legged anymore (which is sad, cause he spends so much time sitting on the floor, and has most of his life) and when he tries to squat down with his knees bent all the way in, he gets this incredible pain in both knees "like they're gonna explode" he says.



He did spend many weeks sitting with his injured knee up on a pillow, not being able to walk around. Then he was over-using his good knee to get around on crutches, go down steps, that sort of thing. Lots of hopping going on in our house for about 6 weeks.



Do you think his knee joints are just strained or "stove up" ?(as my grandma says) Would stretching help any?



Has anyone ever heard of this problem with vegetarian diets and joints? He doesn't eat a whole lot of fats besides nuts and olive oil/ olives. Do you think incorporating more flax seeds/sunflower seeds/ olives/ avacados would help? (I know we should eat more of those anyway...)



Any insiteful information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, VB crowd!
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#2 Old 08-20-2003, 04:52 PM
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Wow, I'd really like to know the answer to this question as well, it anyone has any stats or scientific info on the subject. I NEVER had knee problems before I was vegetarian, but I wasn't very active either. At any rate, I do have them now and I wonder if this is a correlation!
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#3 Old 08-20-2003, 05:29 PM
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Oh man, I've been a vegetarian for about 2 years. About a year into it, my right knee and ankle started to hurt and they still do, so I can't really run anymore. I hope this isn't due to my diest.
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#4 Old 08-20-2003, 05:29 PM
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One supplement that is supposed to help with joints is glucosamine & chondroitin. I know many people who have had a lot of success with it. I don't really understand what it is exactly or where it comes from, so I don't know if it's veg*n or not.
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#5 Old 08-20-2003, 05:55 PM
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My joints seem fine, but I don't exercise very much..
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#6 Old 08-20-2003, 06:11 PM
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Glucosamine and condrointin: One of them comes from animals; I'm not sure about the other one. For neither is there much scientific evidence to back up the claims that they help.



I have been vegan for about 35 years, I am 55. I do not have any joint problems. I had mild twinges of joint pain before i went vegetarian.



Excessive b vitamins caused joint pain. It went away when I stopped.



Mild joint pain is an early symptom of protein deficiency.
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#7 Old 08-20-2003, 09:58 PM
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I have been wondering about this also.. since I have always had some knee trouble. Now that we all need to know I'll go see what I can see..



On a bottle of "Puritan's Pride C-Jointin, with Glucosamine, MSM, and Chondroitin" the ingredients are listed as: Soybean oil, Gelitan, Glycerin, Lecithin, Yellow Beeswax, and Caramel coloring.

There also is a warning that if you are allergic to shellfish or sulfur that you should NOT take this supplement... so they're definitely not veg*n.. The only other thing I had time to look at right now was a Q&A session from the Vegetraian Resource Group's site. Hope this helps you all out a little bit!



) http://www.vrg.org/vrgnews/2002oct.htm

QUESTION OF THE MONTH: Glucosamine and Condroitin

Maybe it's because this is the time of year when the chill starts creeping into our bones and stiffening our joints, but we've been getting many questions about Glucosamine and Condroitin recently. These substances were discussed by Reed Mangels Phd, RD, in our book Vegan and Vegetarian FAQ.



Q: I am a vegetarian and have joint pain. Are things like glucosamine and chondroitin considered okay?



A: Glucosamine is extracted from the shells of crabs and other crustaceans and chondroitin is made from cow trachea or shark cartilage (Center for Science in the Public Interest's Nutrition Action Healthletter, October 2000).



There was an article in the Autumn 1998 issue of Vegetarian Dietetics on "Vegetarian Diets in the Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis" that might be of interest to you. It is accessible online at www.andrews.edu/NUFS/arthritis.html.



Q: I was recently referred to another physician by my doctor. He said he had several vegan patients who had joint problems (something I am trying to overcome myself). He told me that vegan foods lacked an amino acid needed to produce collagen. I asked him if he meant one of the 8 essential amino acids and he said no. He went on to add that I could get this amino acid by eating plankton (not any old seaweed), something that should be in any big health food store. Well, I live near several very well stocked health food stores & co-ops and nobody ever heard of selling plankton. Have you heard of this?



A: The only thing that I can think of are two supplements that are reported to ease arthritis pain - glucosamine and chondroitin (derived from crabs and crustaceans and cow trachea and shark cartilage, respectively. See question above.). While they can be found in some foods, they are usually taken as supplements. Neither of these are amino acids, but they are non-vegan products recommended for arthritis treatment. Another possibility are omega-3 fatty acids. These are fats, not amino acids, but increased consumption has been linked to a reduction in symptoms of arthritis. One common omega-3 fatty acid is DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).



As an aside, I've read a few studies that found a vegan diet relieved some arthritis symptoms. This seems to contradict the idea that something is lacking in a vegan diet and leads to joint pain.



Reed Mangels, PhD, RD
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#8 Old 08-20-2003, 11:24 PM
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We need Lothar on this thread.



I've actually notice a decrease in my joint problems since going vegan. I practiced yoga and Pilates for a while before going vegan. They helped immensely. I recently popped my hip right out of socket, while mowing the lawn. I don't know what caused it, but I fell and a blood bath nearly occurred. I've chronic hip problems due to genetics, but, when I did yoga or Pilates everyday, they didn't bother me for a long time. I think my diet helps, but exercise may be the key.
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#9 Old 08-21-2003, 07:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cougar View Post

We need Lothar on this thread.

Thanks Cougar, here I am.

All nutrients the joints require are in a vegan and/or a vegetarian diet. If someone is saying, joints are deteriorating after switching to a veg*an diet it dioesn´t have anything to do with the the diet, it´s a coincidence. The truth is that the veg*an lifestyle is good for joints: more antioxidants, less weight, more sports.

Different joint diseases have different dietary needs: osteoarthritis will benefit from a ß-caroteen, vit. C and vit. E rich diet (which means for omnis bye-bye to the meat!), rheumatoid arthritis will benefit from a diet poor in arachidonic acid, which is a fatty acid only found in animal tissue, not in veggies, gout will benefit from a diet which is poor in purine bodies, that´s trix´cky, because nutritional yeast and beans contain larger amounts of purine bodies though not as much as some meats and fish.

All in all it´s a good idea to switch to a veg*an diet.

Chondroitin: it´s safe to use it. The studies showing a benefit have been questioned and criticized during the last congresses both in Europe and the U.S.

I´ll have a look at all post by and by.

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#10 Old 08-21-2003, 07:17 AM
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Originally Posted by jwnyc View Post

Hi all,

He can't sit cross-legged anymore ...

He did spend many weeks sitting with his injured knee up on a pillow, ...

Not being able to sit cross-legged anymore, could mean it´s a meniscus problem. Have your husband see an orthopedic surgeon to look if that´s the case.

Putting a pillow under the knee isn´t a good idea, because the tendons, muscles etc. will shrink making stretching even worse. Strechting would be a good idea, but have at least the GP have a look at the knees.

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#11 Old 08-21-2003, 07:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NDvegan85 View Post

One supplement that is supposed to help with joints is glucosamine & chondroitin. I know many people who have had a lot of success with it. I don't really understand what it is exactly or where it comes from, so I don't know if it's veg*n or not.

Look at the following two links:

http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/fact/thr_r...pcategory=Knee



http://www.arthritis.org/conditions/...lucosamine.asp



Cited from the second: "Both glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are sold as dietary or nutritional supplements. They are extracted from animal tissue: glucosamine from crab, lobster or shrimp shells; and chondroitin sulfate from animal cartilage, such as tracheas or shark cartilage."

So it´s not veg*an at all!

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#12 Old 08-21-2003, 07:28 AM
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Sorry DirtDiva, I didn´t read your post as thorough as I should have.

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#13 Old 08-21-2003, 01:02 PM
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Thanks for all the info, guys. Lothar, man, you are a mountain of information.



So, is the general consensus that the lack of animal fats has nothing to do with joint problems? It makes sense to me that some fatty acids would certainly help the problem--grease up those joints, y'know?



My husband's been taking glucosamine, condroitin and even shark cartilage since this thing happend, but he's still having problems. It's sad, cause he used to jump around like so many monkeys, and now he's walking like a old man. I keep telling him he'll get better and be fine, just to take it easy and he'll heal and be back to normal, but after hearing all of your stories, I'm skeptical.



Anyway, I'll keep looking around for more info on it, and feed flax seeds/sunflower seeds/ avacados/ olives to my guy and see if it helps.
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#14 Old 08-21-2003, 05:34 PM
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jwnyc "It makes sense to me that some fatty acids would certainly help the problem--grease up those joints, y'know?"



From what I understand the joints are not lubricated with grease (fat, oil); rather, they are lubricated with a mucus-like substance -- which are water, salts, and mucins. Mucins are "glycosylated proteins." These are "carbohydrate-coated" proteins. No fats or oils involved. I could be mistaken about joint fluids, but I think the same applies as to mucus.
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#15 Old 08-21-2003, 05:40 PM
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OK, synovial fluid (in joints) does contain some fats, in addition to mucins and salts. However I believe it is the mucins and water that are considered largely responsible for the lubricating ability of synovial fluid, not the small amounts of fat.
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#16 Old 08-22-2003, 12:42 AM
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Originally Posted by soilman View Post

OK, synovial fluid (in joints) does contain some fats, in addition to mucins and salts. However I believe it is the mucins and water that are considered largely responsible for the lubricating ability of synovial fluid, not the small amounts of fat.

It´s called hyaluronan, which is also used in therapy (intraarticular injection). It´s one of the lubricating agents.

An animal based diet is rich in saturated fatty acids, which slow blood flow and might have an effect on the mobility of cell membranes. So a veg*an diet can help to increase blodd flow and exchange of nutrients on a cellular level. Another good reason for aveg*an diet and against animal/meat products.

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