Knees Achy? Drink A Glass Of Milk

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Low fat milk (credit: Dr. Dave Hnida)

Low fat milk (credit: Dr. Dave Hnida)

Dr. Dave Hnida By Dr. Dave Hnida
CBSDenver.com Blogger
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It’s a fact of life: starting at about the age of 25, everyone starts to develop a little arthritis in their knees. Obviously, for some people it’s worse than for others — and some people don’t even get a pinch of pain until decades down the line.

The usual type of arthritis is degenerative or osteoarthritis, meaning wear and tear that starts to thin out the cartilage or “shock absorbers” between the bones.

It’s funny, osteoarthritis sometimes can be purely an X-ray diagnosis — you can see some bone spurs and thinning at the joint — but people have no pain. Yet others can’t even go up a flight of stairs because of the electric shocks that hit every time weight is placed on the joint, and their X-rays don’t look that horrible.

As you might figure, medications all the way to joint replacement have been the traditional treatments. But could there be a way to slow down the progression of arthritis?

According to a new study from the American College of Rheumatology, there is.

Milk.

Specifically skim or low-fat.

Researchers followed a group of 3,000 knees over a four-year period, and found that the more milk a person drinks each week, the slower the loss of cartilage.

In other words, those who drank 0-3 cups per week lost cartilage the fastest; 4-6 cups a week lost it a little slower; and those who drank 7 or more cups lost the least.

Interestingly, cheese or yogurt didn’t do much to help the knees — low fat milk seemed to be the winner. Researchers wonder if it’s the Vitamin D added to milk, as well as other special chemicals found in milk that is not found in other dairy.

Obviously, guzzling a gallon a day isn’t going to save your knees forever. That’s why we always recommend keeping off the extra pounds –which beat your knee joints to death — as well as some regular exercise to build up the muscles around the knee, which does a lot to take the pressure off of the joint by providing more support.

One final point, if you think running will make your knees need replacing at a young age, think again. Research shows runners tend to have less knee arthritis than the general population.

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