Will Eating Ghee Help To Strengthen My Joints After Delivery?
We would like to very cautiously answer this as a NO.
In short, there are no medical evidences that suggest that ghee helps in recovery of joint strength after delivery. However, we in India have been traditionally using ghee for postnatal care and there are many who follow it and swear by it to date, although the exact “science” behind it is not known. Let us look at both sides of the argument so that we can arrive at a logical conclusion ourselves.
Why Is It Believed That Ghee Helps In Strengthening Joints After Delivery?
During pregnancy, a woman’s joints weaken. After delivery, more so. Our body joints (e.g. knees, elbows) behave much like hinges or levers in a machine. And when the hinges or levers in the machines stop working well, what do you do? You put grease in them to reduce friction and ensure smooth movement. Some people believe that this is exactly what ghee will do to a weak joint in human body. It acts as a lubricating agent, smoothening the movement and strengthening the parts around.
In addition to strengthening joints, ghee is also believed to heal the internal wounds that occur during delivery and gives the mother the much needed extra calories during lactation. And due to all these perceived benefits, many women are advised to “drink”ghee daily. In fact, Ayurvedic postnatal care focuses a lot on ghee being administered along with other medicines for quick recovery.
Why Does Science Not Support Having Too Much Ghee For Postnatal Care?
Let us examine why a woman’s joints “weaken” during pregnancy. In reality, the joints do not really weaken. During pregnancy, a woman’s body creates a hormone called relaxin, the purpose of which is to relax the joints in preparation for the delivery. So, the “weakening of the joint” is not really a consequence of the pregnancy. It is something a woman’s body does intentionally. Now after delivery, in about a month or two, the effect of relaxin wears off and the woman’s joints regain their prior strength. In these initial two months, however, the woman will feel weakness in her joints, which is only the effect of relaxin that is still in their system. So according to this theory, whether a woman consumes ghee or not, she will regain her strength within the first two months of the delivery.
Further, drinking or consuming lot of ghee can have lot of unintended aftermaths as well. For starters, 100gm of ghee is nearly 720 calories! It is rich in vitamins, however, it is lot of fat, little protein and no carbohydrates or dietary fibers. So, ghee can definitely contribute to your body weight, something you would be keen to keep in control especially after having a child. The increase in body weight can lead to other medical problems, one of which, ironically, is the weakening of the joints. Additionally, while ghee in moderation is beneficial, too much of it can increase cholesterol levels, which consequently increases the risk of heart problems.
So Should I Have Ghee Or Not After Delivery?
Ghee as such is not bad. It is the quantity in which it is advised to be consumed for postnatal care that is alarming. We recommend consumption of ghee from grass-fed cows in moderation. While this does not really help in strengthening joints (which as we discussed before, will regain strength by itself soon), ghee can have multiple other benefits after delivery.
It can prevent constipation, a common complaint among new mothers
It helps in heart burn and indigestion. It is also known to speed up metabolism
It is known to be good for skin, and prevent swelling, itchiness and inflammation
But again, “moderation” is the key word here.
In the end, it is really up to you – if you want to follow the traditional or Ayurveda way of healing, you can use more ghee. The powers of ghee might not be scientifically proved, but is vouched by millions of women in the past generations. On the other hand, if you want to stick to known facts, then consume it in moderation. In either of the cases, if you find that your joints are painful, or if the discomfort is increasing with time, then do consult a doctor. There might be other causes to it in addition to the relaxin hormone. More on Traditional Indian Postpartum Care here.