What is the Best
Rheumatoid Arthritis Diet?

Are you looking for a rheumatoid arthritis diet to help limit your joint pain? Typical rheumatoid arthritis treatment often involves a variety of medications that also come with side effects. If you are looking for ways to minimize the need for medication, diet and arthritis supplements may help. But finding accurate information may not be that easy. Does research indicate which supplements are best? And what dietary recommendations are most effective in reducing arthritis symptoms?




Rheumatoid Arthritis Diet Recommendations

The good thing about changing your diet is that there are no side effects, making changes appealing to those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. Although there has not been one definitive diet that has been recommended by the Arthritis Foundation, there is research on what dietary changes are helpful in reducing RA symptoms.

A dietary change that has the most research support is following the Mediterranean Diet. Essentially, the traditional Mediterranean diet emphasizes foods from plant sources, limited meat consumption, small amounts of wine, and olive oil as the main fat source.

Diets that are high in fruits, vegetables, and Omega-3 are high in antioxidants which appear to help reduce inflammation in the body. Studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet can reduce disease activity, pain and stiffness in patients with inflammatory arthritis conditions and may thus constitute a valuable support for patients suffering from these diseases.
Arthritis Diet Another more involved dietary recommendation supported by research is a vegan diet with the elimination of gluten. Data suggests that this dietary modification may be of clinical benefit for certain RA patients, and that this benefit may be related to a reduction in immunoreactivity to food antigens eliminated by the change in diet.

There is also some research that indicates “elimination diets” may be helpful in reducing arthritis symptoms. Minimizing foods that are high in saturated fats, arachidonic acid, and Omega-6 can help to minimize joint inflammation. Foods that contain saturated fats include animal products such as red meat, butter, cream, and bacon.

Many of oils we typically use for cooking including corn, sunflower, soybean, and sesame oil all contain higher levels of Omega-6. Reducing the intake of these foods has demonstrated some effectiveness in reducing joint pain.

In addition to these rheumatoid arthritis diet recommendations, a common sense approach to weight should be considered. Minimizing body weight will help to reduce joint stress on weight bearing joints, thus helping to reduce pain. Thus, it is not just what is eaten but how much that plays a role in overall joint pain and stiffness.


Supplements

Just as dietary changes can have a positive effect on rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, supplements can also be beneficial. Of all the supplements that have been evaluated by research, Omega-3 fatty acids (specifically fish oil) demonstrate the greatest effectiveness in reducing symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

It is important to note that most benefits are not realized until after a minimum of 12 weeks of taking 3g (3000 mg) of fish oil (DHA/EPA). Supplementing with Omega-3/fish oil can also be enhanced by increasing the consumption of Omega-3 rich foods such as salmon, tuna, trout, walnuts, flaxseed oil, and tofu is also suggested.

In addition to Omega-3 supplementation, additional supplements may be suggested based on the medication being taken. For instance, long term corticosteroid use such as prednisone can have a negative impact on bone density making Calcium and vitamin D supplementation important. And if you are taking methotrexate, supplementing with folic acid can be beneficial.


Rheumatoid Arthritis Diet Summary

• Consider consuming a Mediterranean type diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and Omega-3 rich oils.

• Minimize the use of animal products and saturated oils.

• Supplement with 3000mg Omega-3/fish oil for at least 12 weeks before deciding if you are obtaining benefits.

• Consider other supplements based on specific medications including calcium, vitamin D, and folic acid.


Research

Kremer JM, n-3 fatty acid supplements in rheumatoid arthritis. Am J Clin Nutr. 71(1 Suppl):349S-51S, 2000.

Darlington LG, Ramsey N, Mansfield J. Placebo controlled, blind study of rheumatoid arthritis diet manipulation. Lancet I:236-238, 1986.

Denman AM, Mitchell B, Ansell B. Joint complaints and food allergic disorders. Annals of Allergy 51:260-263, 1983.

Kjeldsen-Kragh J, Hvatum M, Haugen M, Forre O, Scott H. Antibodies against dietary antigens in rheumatoid arthritis patients treated with fasting and a one year vegetarian diet. Clinical Experimental Rheumatology 13(2):167-172, 1995.

Kremer JM, Lawrence DA, Jubiz W, DiGiacomo R, Rynes R, Bartholomew LE, Sherman, M. Dietary fish oil and olive oil supplementation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Clinical and immunological effects. Arthritis Rheum 1 33(6):810-20, 1990.



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