Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most common autoimmune diseases.
Aggravated by the fact that there is only medication to slow down your progress.
Hence, one could think of a diet for rheumatoid arthritis to strengthen pharmacological treatment.
1.3% of the world population, mostly women, are figures that demonstrate the severity of this disease.
New research indicates that diet can influence traditional treatments for rheumatoid arthritis.
This article summarizes current data and recommendations
What is Rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that affects the structure and function of the joints.
A membrane called the synovial membrane lines the joints, creating space and fluid to lubricate and facilitate movement.
In rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system attacks the synovial membrane, causing an inflammatory immune response that causes pain, joint deformity and disability as the disease progresses.
The Best Diet for Rheumatoid Arthritis Based on Scientific Evidence
The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown, but the genetics and health of our intestinal bacteria seem to play an important role.
That said, the carriers of the genes can develop the disease.
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
Joint pain or sensitivity
Redness or swelling in the joints
Joint stiffness, especially in the morning
Slight symptoms of fever
Anemia (low red blood cell count)
Firm lumps under the skin
Joint mobility problems.
The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis usually manifest in outbreaks, during which symptoms appear or worsen over a period of days or weeks.
foods to avoid in the diet for rheumatoid arthritis
Medication is the first line of treatment for rheumatoid arthritis!
This includes non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, disease modifying drugs and corticosteroids.
However, some researches and anecdotes from patients suggest that certain pharmaceutical products and dietary patterns may also influence the activity of the disease.
This includes medications such as Adderall, and foods such as gluten and dairy products.
Gluten and rheumatoid arthritis
People with autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, are more likely to produce anti-gluten antibodies.
These are the same antibodies seen in celiac disease, so celiacs should strictly avoid gluten.
Researchers are not sure how gluten directly impacts rheumatoid arthritis.
But it could be related to increased intestinal permeability or leaky gut syndrome.
Some small studies have found benefits with a gluten-free diet, while others found no difference.
It seems that for people who produce anti-gluten antibodies they will directly benefit from a gluten-free diet.
For others, it would be an indirect benefit by eliminating junk foods that often contain gluten. Early research suggests that the consumption of eggs and milk can be problematic.
These foods produce certain immune antibodies and inflammatory markers associated with symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, at least in rodents.
In addition, these effects are related to food allergies.
Unlike gluten, which is capable of causing food intolerance.
Therefore, unless the patient has symptoms of allergies to eggs or milk, it is most likely not a problem.
For this reason, if you suspect an allergy or intolerance to food, consult your doctor to rule out food allergies.
Food and nutrients that can help with rheumatoid arthritis
Including certain foods and nutrients can help reduce the inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis.
Most studies have used supplements instead of natural foods, this is because they usually require high doses of nutrients.
Keep in mind that you should not add supplements without medical supervision due to the risk of interactions and side effects.
Omega-3 fatty acids
The omega-3 fats or acids of fish oil are known for their anti-inflammatory effects.
In a study of 140 rheumatoid arthritis patients, one group was given 5.5 grams of fish oil per day while the second group (control) only 0.4 grams of fish oil per day.
All participants also received several anti-rheumatic drugs throughout the study.
Both groups experienced a reduction in disease activity, but the first group had higher rates of remission (relief of symptoms).
Therefore, it could be that a dose of fish oil of at least 2.7 grams of DHA plus EPA per day can increase the effectiveness of anti-rheumatic, at least in the first 6 months.
A previous study on fish oil also found similar benefits.
Interestingly, the effect was much stronger when combined with a diet mainly vegetarian, with low content of arachidonic acid.
However, keep in mind that fish oil supplements may interact negatively with certain rheumatoid arthritis medications, so you should always talk to your doctor first.
Vitamin K2 and rheumatoid arthritis
New research suggests that a specific form of vitamin K2 (called MK-7) can help improve the effectiveness of rheumatoid arthritis drugs.
Of 84 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, one group received 100 mcg / day of MK-7 for 3 months, while a second group received “false” pills.
The first group had marked improvements in inflammation markers and evaluation of the activity score of the disease.
In addition, MK-7 increased the level of the active form of osteocalcin, an important marker of bone health.
It is currently unknown if the sources of vitamin K2 have the same effects.
Vitamin D, Calcium and rheumatoid arthritis
Patients with rheumatoid arthritis are at a higher risk of suffering from bone-related diseases due to chronic inflammation, reduced physical activity
While vitamin D and calcium do not seem to directly affect the risk of rheumatoid arthritis or symptoms, it is important to maintain
adequate levels to reduce the risk of fractures.
Vitamin D is essential for health and yet it is the number one nutritional deficit in the Western world.
When adequate sun exposure is not possible, vitamin D + calcium supplements are highly recommended.
Food sources are also recommended, including fatty fish, egg yolks.
What is the best diet for rheumatoid arthritis?
While it is limited, the evidence suggests that vegetarian and vegan diets are beneficial for rheumatoid arthritis.
In fact, many of the studies that support the vegetarian diet include more than one intervention for rheumatoid arthritis, such as fish oil, physiotherapy or fasting.
However, vegetarian diets tend to be poor in omega-3 fats and vitamin D, nutrients that could be vital for rheumatoid arthritis.
Some may also find vegetarian diets too restrictive if the sole purpose is for health reasons.
The Paleo diet is a feeding pattern that eliminates several food groups.
This includes wheat (gluten) and dairy products, known to cause inflammation in some people.
Anecdotal evidence (self-reported) indicates that the Paleo diet helps with rheumatoid arthritis.
This may be because people sensitive to gluten or dairy, notice improvements immediately.
It is also rich in omega-3 fats and eliminates junk food, which only benefits.
Unfortunately, the Paleo diet also recommends cutting out affordable and nutritious foods such as legumes and potatoes, which is unnecessary.
The Mediterranean diet is based on traditional foods that countries like Spain, Italy, Croatia, Greece have consumed since before the 50’s.
Emphasize fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains, olive oil and seafood.
It has shown promise for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, possibly due to its favorable ratio of omega-3 fats to arachidonic acid.
In a 3-month study of 51 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, one group followed the Mediterranean diet while the control group maintained the standard Western diet.
The Mediterranean diet group showed great improvements in physical function and vitality.
Summary of the best diet for rheumatoid arthritis
There is convincing evidence that changes in diet can complement the traditional medical treatment of autoimmune diseases.
The Mediterranean diet in particular appears the most useful and best studied diet for rheumatoid arthritis.
Patients with suspected food allergies or intolerance may benefit from eliminating gluten from their diet.
Dairy products and eggs can also cause problems, but this is based on weak evidence.
At least it’s worth trying a gluten-free diet for a month to see if the symptoms improve.
Fish oil and supplements with vitamin K2 can also help fight inflammation and it is definitely worth trying together with rheumatoid arthritis medications.
But because of the risk of side effects or drug interactions, it is vital to talk with your doctor before starting a new meal or supplement plan.
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