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 the right foods can help you to manage symptoms.
The best diet for people with RA – or anyone who wants to eat healthy – is a one that is well-balanced.
What is a Healthy and Well-Balanced Diet?
A healthy and balanced diet gives your body all the vital nutrients it needs to function well.
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a healthy and balanced diet consists of:
- A variety of vegetables
- Whole Grains
- Fat-free and low-fat dairy
- A variety of proteins, including seafood, lean meats, soy products, nuts, and seeds.
Two-thirds of your diet should consist of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The other one-third should come from low-fat dairy and lean proteins.
People with RA should always try to eat real food and avoid processed foods that contain huge amounts of preservatives, extra sugars, and saturated fats. The more you work on controlling eating habits, the less RA pain and symptoms you will experience.
Connection Between Rheumatoid Arthritis and Diet
There aren’t enough studies to confirm a definitive link between RA and diet, but studies have shown inflammation is connected to certain foods. And foods considered anti-inflammatory, including fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids, may improve RA symptoms and possibly reduce the number of disease flare-ups.
Two studies, presented at the 2015 American College of Rheumatology annual meeting suggest a connection between the development of RA and diet.
The first study looked at over 93,000 women, ages 25 to 45, who shared their diet habits over a period of four years and during that time, 347 women developed RA. Most of the women who were diagnosed with RA ate a diet high in red and processed meats, fried foods, high-fat dairy, and sugars, this compared to the women who ate a healthier and more nutritious diet and who didn’t develop the disease.
The second study investigated how the American Dietary Guidelines affected the risk for RA in young and middle-aged women. What they found was women who followed these dietary guidelines had a decreased risk for RA and other chronic diseases.
If RA is a culprit in disease development, it is also possible symptoms can be reduced in patients who currently have the condition if they make simple and good health choices.
In fact, recent survey results published in the Arthritis Care & Research found at least one-quarter of people with longstanding RA were reporting a connection with diet and RA symptoms. The results came from a survey of 300 subjects who were asked if they ate specific foods and how these foods affected their RA.
Benefits of an RA-Friendly Diet
It is possible a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fats can help you to manage your RA symptoms. And while research on a specific diet has been limited, people who eliminated certain foods from their diets – red and processed meats, caffeine, dairy, etc. – have reported symptom improvement.
It seems avoiding certain foods with RA is an option worth trying. Of course, it is not a good idea to exclude an entire food group or too many foods without first talking to your doctor or a dietitian.
Adding certain foods to your diet also helps. Foods rich in vitamin D, fish, and other anti-inflammatory foods have been helpful in reducing inflammation related to RA.
You should also reduce the amount of and the type of fats you use when cooking.
One reason is because RA is associated with a higher risk for heart disease. A second reason is because certain fats – or too much fat – influence levels of joint pain and inflammation.