Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a chronic, painful, inflammatory disease that affects joints and connective tissue. Currently there is no magic elixir to cure RA, but several studies seem to show a connection between certain foods and the inflammation that characterizes this autoimmune condition.
According to the USDA, RA diet should be centered on plant-based foods. Approximately two-thirds of your diet should come from fruits, vegetables and whole grains and the other third should include fat-free/low-fat dairy products with lean sources of protein.
People with RA have higher levels of substances called cytokines that increase inflammation in the body. Polyunsaturated fats especially omega-3 fatty acids help suppress cytokines, decrease LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglyceride levels and other inflammatory chemicals.
Foods to eat
- Baked/Grilled (to prevent Omega 3 loss) fish like salmon, herring, sardines, and anchovies.
- Walnuts, canola oil, and soybeans.
- Blueberries, blackberries, squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, oranges, broccoli, and melons. They contain flavonoids and carotenoids which are powerful anti-oxidants useful in fighting inflammation.
- Whole-wheat pasta, breads, shellfish and crab contain selenium, an inflammation-fighting antioxidant. Whole grains such as oatmeal, brown rice, and barley lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation in the body. Eating whole grains instead of refined grains helps manage your weight at a normal level, thus taking pressure off your joints.
- A compound in olive oil stops the production of the chemicals that induce inflammation. Always opt for extra-virgin olive oil as they contain the highest content of health-promoting nutrients.
- Vitamin D, usually associated with calcium and protection against osteoporosis may also help lower the risk of RA in older women by regulating the immune system. Good sources of vitamin D include eggs, fortified breads, cereals and low-fat milk.
When considering RA it is important to maintain healthy, well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Additional supplements can be taken according to your current physiological make-up upon consultation from your doctor.