Knee Arthritis Diet? An Obscure Hormone May Be Trashing Your Knees

Is there a knee arthritis diet or is the issue more complex? We’d all accept at face value that a heavier person has more wear and tear on their joints. This is true, but what most people don’t realize is that a hormone with a funny name (Leptin) may be equally responsible for eating up knee cartilage. So while loosing weight might help, getting this hormone under control may help your knee arthritis just as much.

The name for this hormone that controls the sensation of feeling full, comes from the Greek “Leptos” meaning “thin”. When you eat and your stomach stretches, your fat cells release this substance that tells your brain to stop eating. If you chronically eat too much, you get too much of this hormone floating around and this causes the body to reduce the number of receptors for Leptin. Think of a receptor as the lock and Leptin as the key. This in turn results in your body producing more receptors to get the same full feeling. So can this extra Leptin hormone cause issues? We know that Leptin in itself is an inflammatory hormone.

A recent study looked at the body weight and Leptin levels of overweight patients with knee arthritis. They then used complex statistics to figure out what effect either the weight, or Leptin, had on the knees. They decided it was about 50/50, with the weight causing half of the arthritis via a mechanical effect (more weight equals more wear and tear) and half of the arthritis being due to the Leptin itself.

So what can you do to get your serum Leptin levels down? Here’s a list:

-Periodically fast short-term-Even fasting for 24 hours and not losing a pound will decrease Leptin levels.

-Fix your sleep apnea! If you snore, this may be increasing your Leptin levels, so consider seeing your family doctor or a sleep specialist.

-Reduce your stress-Leptin is increased by being stressed out.

-Supplement your hormones if your’e older-Leptin levels are decreased by increased testosterone.

-Exercise! You can get a long-term reduction in Leptin by exercising regularly.

-Avoid steroid shots! These increase serum Leptin levels.

-Avoid sugary food or carbs (the white stuff-rice, flour, sugar) as these increase Leptin levels all by themselves.

The upshot? While those extra pounds aren’t helping your knees, there’s another side to the story of why you have arthritis. A hormone you’ve likely never heard of is breaking down your cartilage. If you have knee arthritis, stay away from fad diets and follow the steps above to drop your Leptin levels!

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Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications. View Profile

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NOTE: This blog post provides general information to help the reader better understand regenerative medicine, musculoskeletal health, and related subjects. All content provided in this blog, website, or any linked materials, including text, graphics, images, patient profiles, outcomes, and information, are not intended and should not be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please always consult with a professional and certified healthcare provider to discuss if a treatment is right for you.

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