Rheumatoid Arthritis Diet Rules to Follow
There is no medication and no alternative remedy that can cure rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, taking medications as prescribed and following the advice of your doctor can decrease inflammation. Likewise, eating foods that are known to have anti-inflammatory properties may also decrease inflammation.
The Mediterranean Diet
Many people who are seeking to decrease inflammation have adopted the Mediterranean diet, so it should come as no shock that this diet plan may also decrease symptoms for RA sufferers.
So, what does the Mediterranean diet entail?
The Mediterranean diet is rich in fats and fiber. Omega-3 fatty acids from fish are a staple; primary choices include salmon, sardines, herring and anchovies.
Olive oil is also prominent. The fats in fish and olive oil are “good” fat and can help lower chemicals in the body that cause inflammation.
Fruits and vegetables are also a main component of the diet. These are essential because they are rich in antioxidants, which are known to decrease inflammation. Fruits and vegetables that are bright in color tend to be higher in antioxidant levels; excellent choices include berries, sweet potatoes, oranges, melons, broccoli, tomatoes and carrots.
In general, supplements should be taken only with the approval of your doctor. Supplements may interact with medications so it best to get the go-ahead.
It is also best to get necessary nutrients from foods, if possible. However, sometimes supplementation may prove beneficial.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, a selenium supplement is believed to help control inflammation because it is an antioxidant. Selenium is found naturally in whole-wheat foods.
However, it may increase the risk of developing diabetes, so pros and cons should be weighed with your doctor and those who have diabetes may not want to take this supplement.
Vitamin D may help older women ward off rheumatoid arthritis because it is known to boost immune function. It can be taken as a supplement, or can be consumed by eating foods rich in vitamin D.
There are not a lot of foods that contain vitamin D, but foods that contain this vitamin include mushrooms, egg yolks, and fortified foods such as bread, milk and juice.
What NOT to Eat
Just as there are foods known to decrease inflammation in the body, there are also foods known to increase inflammation.
Grilling foods may cause inflammation, as grilling can increase advanced glycation end products (AGEs). Research has not shown a direct link between high AGEs and RA, but according to the Arthritis Foundation, “high levels of AGEs have been detected in people with inflammation.”
Consuming omega-6 fatty acids may also contribute to inflammation. These are easily confused with omega-3 fatty acids, but they are not the same thing.
In addition to increasing inflammation, omega-6 fatty acids may also contribute to joint inflammation and obesity. Foods that contain omega-6 fatty acids include oils, such as corn, sunflower, safflower and sunflower oils. Snack foods and fried foods may also contain omega-6 fatty acids.
In addition, there are foods that are known to flare RA symptoms. If you note that you are sensitive to any food, you should avoid it. Foods that commonly exacerbate RA symptoms include:
- Dairy. Some people with RA may have produced antibodies to milk proteins.
- Meat. A diet rich in meat may equate to more calories and fat in the diet.
- Gluten. Research shows that people with RA have an increased risk of having celiac disease, which means RA and gluten may not mix.
- Any other specific triggers. Everyone is different so triggers may be different from person-to-person.