Can a Change in Your Diet For Rheumatoid Arthritis Help?
The answer is yes and no. Radical changes in diet (like changing to a Vegan Diet) can help some people, but there is currently no scientific evidence that it helps everyone.
Obviously. if you eat a ‘healthy diet” of:
- fish 3 three times per week,
- fresh foods as opposed to processed foods,
- low fat fresh protein and
- fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables
- no refined sugar
your overall health will improve. That kind of diet can only help your Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Research is currently being conducted to determine how diet affects Rheumatoid Arthritis. There are many people with a diagnosis of RA who are looking for natural solutions that will relieve their symptoms. Some foods that help and others that hurt your RA have been identified.
What Foods Help?
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids block inflammation. They can be found in Salmon, herring, mackerel, trout and tuna. Other good sources of Omega 3 are: soy foods, walnuts, pecans, ground flaxseed and edamine. Try to eat fish three times per week if possible.
- Extra-virgin olive oil contains a compound called oleocanthal that blocks the enzymes that cause inflammation just like NSAID drugs do. It does take 31/2 Tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil to equal the anti-inflammatory properties of one 200 mg tablet of ibuprofen.
- Fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables and whole grains increase the amount of fiber in your diet. Increased fiber in your diet results in lowering levels of C-reactive Protein (CRP) in your blood. A high level of CRP in your blood is an indicator of inflammation.
- Fresh or frozen, colorful fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts, green tea, red wine, dark chocolate, cinnamon, ginger and turmeric are all rich in antioxidants. Oxidation is a natural process associated with inflammatory arthritis that causes cell and tissue damage. Antioxidants fight oxidation.
What Supplements Help?
Please remember to check with your physician before taking any supplements. Some supplements can react with drugs you may be taking.
- Vitamins C, D, Folic Acid, B12, E, Calcium and Magnesium are often low in people with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Supplements may help
- Selenium is a mineral that is usually low in people with RA. It can, however, increase your risk of Diabetes so don’t take it without checking with your doctor.
- Vitamin D can decrease the risk of RA in older women.
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids reduce inflammation
It is always best to get most of your nutrients from your food.
What Foods Hurt your Rheumatoid Arthritis?
- Hamburgers, chicken and other meats that have been grilled or fried at a high temperature raise the amount of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) in your blood. High levels of AGEs have been found in the blood of people with inflammation.
- Omega-6 Fatty Acids found in corn, sunflower, safflower, soybean and cottonseed oils as well as many snack foods, fried foods, margarine, egg yokes and meat. Consuming more Omege -6 fatty acids than Omega -3 fatty acids increases your risk of joint inflammation and obesity.
Is There Hope that a Diet for Rheumatiod Arthritis can Help?
In my research, I found many reasons for you to consider changing your diet:
- Paleo Diet: I found one person who claimed that the Paleo Diet has put her Rheumatoid Arthritis in remission. She has been in remission for over 4 months and has discontinued her Methotrexate and NSAID with her doctor’s permission.
- Gluten-free Diet: There is a lot of evidence that many people with RA are glucose intolerant (without testing positive for Celiac Disease). If they go on a gluten-free diet, their symptoms improve significantly.
- Studies Reported in the Oxford Journal:
- Many studies reported by the Oxford Journal have involved placing people with RA on a Vegan Diet. Some patients improved, but not all of the study participants improved. They did, however, experience an exacerbation of their symptoms when they re-introduced coffee, sweets, alcohol and refined sugar. Staying away from coffee, alcohol, sweets and refined sugar is probably worth trying.
- There is some evidence that your intestinal flora may be altered if you have RA. That may be why diets that change the intestinal flora help.
- The Oxford Journal thinks that The Mediterranean Diet should be of interest to researchers. That diet contains a low content of red meat and a high content of olive oil. More studies are needed to confirm this.
- One More Hint: It is important to drink as much water as you can if you have RA. Your joints need to stay hydrated.
Please remember that any change in your diet or any change in supplements will not relieve your symptoms instantly. Any real changes in diet do not cause improvements quickly like drugs do. It is true, though, that natural treatments like diet changes do not have the dangerous side effects that some drugs have.
If you have RA and have made diet changes, I would love to hear your story. You can respond in the comments section below.