When considering long-term treatment options for rheumatoid arthritis, you may not realize that your diet can have a significant impact on your symptoms. A recent study done by the University of Oslo, Norway indicates that inflammatory responses begin in the gut when certain foods are eaten.
While a good diet plan for rheumatoid arthritis cannot cure the disease, it may mitigate the symptoms of pain and inflammation when coupled with more traditional treatment options like medicine, rest and a comprehensive joint exercise regimen.
Foods to Include
Foods containing omega-3 fats: According to the John Hopkins Arthritis Center, foods rich in omega-3 fats might help relieve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Including fish in your diet, such as salmon, tuna, sardines, trout and herring, is an easy way to increase your omega-3s. Other food sources include nuts like walnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts and pumpkin seeds.
Fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C: Citrus fruits, broccoli, kiwi, kale, pineapple and mangoes are just some of the foods that are high in vitamin C. This nutrient is critical to the health of collagen, which is effective in delaying joint deterioration. Incorporating one or two servings of vitamin-C-rich fruits and vegetables per meal can help prevent joint pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis.
Vegetables high in folic acid: Methotrexate, a common rheumatoid arthritis drug, can prevent your body from producing folates, chemicals necessary for red and white blood cell production. Eating foods with folic acid like spinach, green peas and broccoli can help counteract the side effects of methotrexate. Patients can also take folic acid supplements with similar benefit.Anti-inflammatory spices: Spices liven up any dish, and certain types can even help reduce inflammation due to rheumatoid arthritis. Though the medical community is not sure why, turmeric and ginger root are noted for fighting symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
Foods to Exclude
Generally, rheumatoid arthritis patients should limit foods that increase body fat. An increase in body fat can put extra strain on already painful joints. These foods include pasteurized dairy products, red meats, refined sugars, monosodium glutamate, processed foods and table salt. Some of these foods can be eaten in moderation, but excessive consumption should be avoided at all costs. Instead, try to eat more fresh foods that are good sources of vitamins and minerals.
Because no diet is one-size-fits-all, rheumatoid arthritis patients should observe the effect of certain foods on pain and inflammation for a few weeks. Consult a doctor if you are considering cutting out entire food groups so you understand potential side effects. The best diet tip is to follow a healthy, balanced diet full of colorful vegetables and lean proteins.