Rheumatoid Arthritis Diet

Rheumatoid arthritis diet can be defined as the diet which, when taken, reduces pain and inflammation. Here, one thing you should remember that there is no such specific diet for the disease, but if you read a lot about various food elements and understand their roles in the body, and then monitor your own diet, for if they increase or decrease pain and inflammation, you can easily find out the ideal diet for RA. Obviously, if you will have to include certain foods in your diet, you will also have to eliminate certain foods and that will make up the right diet for rheumatoid arthritis. Moreover, the diet is not a curing agent, but it just reduces symptoms. However, you can expect a better quality of life from such a diet, because it will give you relief from the symptoms, almost up to the level of cure.

According to a recent study, 30% to 40% of RA patients benefit just because they avoid certain foods, which are suspected to trigger pain and stiffness. For example, saturated fats, like animal products, such as steak, bacon, cream and butter, increase the inflammatory chemicals in the body, named prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are responsible for causing pain, inflammation, swelling and destruction of joints in RA. In addition to this, meat contains high quantity of arachidonic acid, a fatty acid, which gets converted to inflammatory prostaglandins in the body. No wonder, in some patients, vegetarian diet shows significant improvement in pain and stiffness. However, it does not occur with all the patients of RA.

Omega-6 fatty acids contained in vegetable oils, like corn oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, sesame oil and wheat germ oil, has linoleic acid in it and its excessive consumption gives rise to various diseases, including inflammatory and/or autoimmune diseases like RA, along with cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Reducing omega-6 fatty acid and increasing omega-3 fatty acids in the diet helps reducing inflammation and risk of disease. Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats and are found in cold water fish and nuts. Marine omega-3 fats contain EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) which are known to have anti-inflammatory properties, and are good for heart. This is particularly significant, because RA patients are more likely to suffer from heart disease. Studies have proven that increased consumption of DHA bring about reduction in C-reactive protein, meaning reduction in inflammation. Therefore, rheumatoid arthritis diet should contain increased amount of cold-water fish, like tuna, salmon and trout, walnuts, tofu, flaxseed and flaxseed oil, soybean products and canola oil, because these contain a lot of omega-3 fatty acids.

Studies have proven that Mediterranean diet, i.e. the diet of countries like Greece and Italy, which is rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains have high quantities of phytonutrients, which have disease-repelling properties and immunity-boosting antioxidants like vitamins C and E, carotenoids and selenium. So also, plant-based diet is rich in bioflavonoids, which are known anti-viral, anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory agents. Mediterranean diet has been proven to reduce RA symptoms significantly.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Diet

An interesting aspect of diet for rheumatoid arthritis is, it decreases the side effects of the medication and so is necessary. Folic acid or folate, which is a vitamin B, contained in food, is useful, if you take methotrexate, a common medicine for RA. Folate helps to produce red blood cells in your body. Selenium is a known anti-oxidant and RA patients have reduced selenium level in the blood. A 3.5 ounce of tuna offers selenium required for a full day. If you take corticosteroids, like prednisone, bone-boosting vitamin D and calcium are must in the diet. As such, RA patients are on high risk of bone-loss and corticosteroids cause more bone-loss. Therefore, you should get adequate calcium and vitamin D through food, sunlight and supplementation.

Though the mode of action is not known, alcohol is known to reduce chances of RA. But you will have to avoid alcohol, if you are on methotrexate, so as to avoid the severe side effect of liver damage.

Lastly, weight-loss is utterly necessary to improve the health of your joints, especially weigh-bearing ones. Being overweight or obese makes the joints stiffer and more painful and worsens RA flares. Therefore, weight-loss diet should be adopted by RA patients.

You can thus adopt a proper rheumatoid arthritis diet by adding and avoiding particular foods in your daily meals, which will certainly improve your condition.