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Osteoarthritis: Could This Algae Extract Lead to a Cure?

Some say osteoarthritis, or the breaking down of your joint cartilage, is a rite of passage as you age. So far, treatments for it include managing symptoms, as there is no real “cure.” Weight loss, physical therapy and pain pills are common symptom managers. New research, however, points toward a possible cure, according to MedicalNewsToday. Curiously, it’s brown algae and its antioxidant properties that appear to mimic the body’s natural polysaccharides in cartilage, offering what researchers hope could be a future cure.

Arthritis is a general term describing over 100 conditions affecting your joints and surrounding tissue, and osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form. Also called degenerative arthritis, OA has been found in 6,000-year-old skeletons, showing that this affliction is an age-old problem. What’s new is that researchers also found that those born in the modern age — after 1940 — have a 2.5 times greater risk of developing OA, even after controlling for differences in age and weight.

Since OA more commonly affects the weight-bearing joints in your body, such as your knees, hips, lower back, neck and the small bones in your hands, one explanation for this may be that modern humans have become more sedentary — it’s well-known that a sedentary lifestyle leads to a reduction in joint stability. The “fix” for this, then, could be to keep your joints lubricated by simply getting up and moving more.

If you already have osteoarthritis, of course, you can’t just pop up out of your seat, but there still are exercises you can do to improve flexibility and strength. Another factor in the development of damaged cartilage leading to OA is a deficiency in omega-3 fats. Animal models have demonstrated that diets high in omega-3 fats not only help prevent the condition, but also help reduce the symptoms of OA. Other research with humans demonstrated a reduction in inflammation and symptoms when animal-based omega-3 fat supplemental krill oil was administered.
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