Osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis involving a breakdown of cartilage in the joints primarily but also affects the surrounding bone and soft tissue of the joint.

  • Overview
  • Action Plan
  • Ask The Doctor
  • Success Stories
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Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of joint disease in the U.S., affecting millions of men and women, primarily persons older than 50 years old. The most common joints to get OA are the knees, although it can involve the hands, hips, and many other joints. It is estimated that approximately 14% of persons in the U.S. will develop knee OA in their lifetime,1 and this risk goes up to 24% or higher for those who are obese. Those with OA typically experience the following symptoms:

  • Joint pain worsened by extensive use
  • Stiffness of joints at rest (morning stiffness lasting up to 30 minutes)
  • Crepitus (crackling sounds with movement of joints)
  • Limited range of motion of joints

The cause of OA is not fully understood, however, patterns have emerged, showing us that it is a product of both local trauma (well known) and systemic factors (less understood). Trauma to joints from repetitive movements over the years, being overweight (putting more pressure on joints), and injuries, as well as muscle and bone weakness leading to imbalanced wear on the joints can all lead to more wear on the cartilage. On the other hand, systemic factors such as low antioxidant intake, vitamin D deficiency leading to weaker bones, and overall low micronutrient (vitamin, mineral, and phytochemical) intake from a poor diet can all speed up the damage in the joints with a slower recovery time even from normal activity. Drinking soda and other sugary drinks2 and not eating enough antioxidant nutrients found in fruits, vegetables, and nuts and seeds seems to be connected to a higher risk of OA and worse progression.3 So, a Nutritarian lifestyle, including staying fit and at a healthy normal weight, are important strategies in the prevention of OA. Many people have reported a Nutritarian diet-style has resulted in resolution of their osteoarthritis symptoms. This is largely due to the anti-inflammatory effects and restoration of blood perfusion and nutrient return to the joint capsule and cartilage.

  1. Losina E, Weinstein AM, Reichmann WM, et al. Lifetime risk and age at diagnosis of symptomatic knee osteoarthritis in the US. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken) 2013, 65:703-711.
  2. Lu B, Ahmad O, Zhang FF, et al. Soft drink intake and progression of radiographic knee osteoarthritis: data from the osteoarthritis initiative. BMJ Open 2013, 3.
  3. McAlindon TE, Jacques P, Zhang Y, et al. Do antioxidant micronutrients protect against the development and progression of knee osteoarthritis? Arthritis Rheum 1996, 39:648-656.

Action Plan


  • A balanced, high antioxidant, Nutritarian eating style will cover the essential nutrients needed to help protect your joints.
  • A Nutritarian diet will help supply most of the required nutrients, however, many will require supplementation with a few basic additional nutrients including vitamin D, which is required for optimal calcium absorption and strong bones and joints.
  • Many may find that regularly using anti-inflammatory herbs and spices (turmeric, oregano, marjoram, ginger, cloves, and others) help to reduce arthritis pain from day to day, so include these in your daily healthy recipes.

Other Considerations

  • Maintaining an ideal weight is important to minimize the stress on the weight-bearing joints like your knees. A Nutritarian eating style will help you lose weight automatically if needed.
  • Keeping all of your muscles strong and conditioned helps stabilize joints and minimize focused wear on the cartilage, so do a variety of exercises within your comfort level.
  • Foot pronation and significant leg length discrepancy can be factors that accelerate joint aging and abnormal wear patterns. Using an inner heel and arch wedge inside a shoe to restore favorable (neutral) alignment can be useful, as can a sole lift if one leg is considerably shorter.

Ask The Doctor

The following are sample questions from the Ask the Doctor Community Platinum and higher members can post their health questions directly to Dr. Fuhrman. (All members can browse questions and answers.)


If someone is sensitive to nightshades and notices it worsens osteoarthritis, is it possible that after following a strict Nutritarian diet for some length of time they could lose this sensitivity to nightshades and be able to consume them again without ill effect?


A small percentage of people have sensitivity to nightshade vegetables and can experience joint pain, digestive disturbance, or other symptoms, and yes, it is possible to diminish the sensitivity over time as gut microflora normalize and antioxidant status improves. What is more likely is that the sensitivity to nightshades will decrease enough so you can eat small amounts of them without difficultly, but it still would be wise to avoid large amounts at one time.


I’ve been following a Nutritarian diet for a while, but unfortunately, I have been unsuccessful with getting my parents to make significant changes.

My mother is 63 and overweight and she also has osteoarthritis. She occasionally diets and loses weight but she works long hours and loves sweets, especially ice cream, so her weight always bounces back up. Can you recommend both vitamins and specific foods I should encourage her to eat to reduce the effects?

She’d be willing to take vitamins and eat more of certain things, but she’ll likely never eat solely Nutritarian.


Many people never thought they could do without sweets and junk food but they find that as they continue to eat healthfully, they lose their desire for these foods. As she becomes lean with a Nutritarian diet, inflammation and tissue injury will diminish. It’s the entirety of the Nutritarian diet, not a specific food that will be most healing. My experience has been that attendees at my Health Getaways learn so much compelling information, while being served delicious buffets of gourmet food, and leave with a heighted motivation to eat healthfully forever. Even those participants who were not willing to eat so healthfully, accompanying a spouse, wind up with a new outlook. Nevertheless, the three basic things I suggest all people with various dietary patterns do are:

  1. Eat a large salad every day, as the main dish
  2. Eat a bowl of veggie, bean soup, chili or bean stew each day
  3. Eat one double-sized portion of wokked or lightly steamed greens each day

Lastly, eat G-BOMBS regularly, Greens, Beans, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries, Seeds (flax, chia)


I have arthritis in my hands that just started, and I am wondering if it is possible to reverse this? What is the cause of arthritis, so I can be sure to stop its progression?


It could be osteoarthritis or the autoimmune type of arthritis, called rheumatoid arthritis. A physician could examine you, perform blood work, and clarify the diagnosis. If you are dealing with osteoarthritis, this is a common inflammatory condition which will improve with a Nutritarian diet rich in phytonutrients and anti-inflammatory compounds. A diet high in animal protein has been associated with an increased risk of osteoarthritis as well as autoimmune-related rheumatoid arthritis.

Both types of arthritis can improve and even resolve if addressed with superior nutrition in the early stages. My book, Super Immunity, contains the specific information you need to take charge of your health and get well again from immune system related disorders.