Like many other degenerative conditions, living with RA can be a constant challenge, and this is something many with this disorder will agree with. It is no surprise, therefore, that sufferers seek relief in any way possible.
These treatments can be in the form of pharmaceuticals, home remedies, physical therapies, and diet. While none of these practices completely cures the condition, they often provide a ton of relief for sufferers.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: Causes and Symptoms
A chronic inflammatory disorder, rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the immune system wrongly attacks the body tissues.
Contrary to popular belief, rheumatoid arthritis does more than affect the joints. It can affect several areas of the body and cause a wide range of damages in places like the eyes, lungs, skin, and blood vessels. It can also affect the heart in some cases.
More commonly though, the condition affects the lining of the joints causing severe damage to joint tissues.
And this results in painful swelling that progresses into bone erosion and joint deformity, especially when diagnosed late or poorly treated. However, even with the improved joint pain treatment options available today, sufferers may still experience physical disabilities with severe rheumatoid arthritis.
Common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include:
- Joint stiffness that worsens in the morning or after long periods of inactivity
- Tender, warm, and swollen joints
- Fever, appetite loss, and exhaustion
- Spreading of symptoms to the knees, ankles, elbows, shoulders, and hips and often on the same side of the body as the disease progresses
- Sufferers may also notice some of the above symptoms and signs in non-joint areas such as the salivary glands, eyes, skin, bone marrow, nerve tissue, and kidneys
Does Diet Help Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Diet may impact joint health. While there is no diet specifically designed to treat or cure rheumatoid arthritis, an anti-inflammatory diet may play a huge role in fighting the condition.
These foods contain healthy compounds that help to reduce inflammation and inflammatory compounds in the body and slow down the progression of the disease. So, yes, while not a cure, a rheumatoid arthritis diet can go a long way in managing the disorder.
Thankfully, the best food for rheumatoid arthritis is cheap, easy to prepare, and often free of adverse effects. These foods are also generally healthy and promote overall well being.
In this section, we will look at some of the 9 best anti-inflammatory foods and spices that are not only proven to lessen rheumatoid arthritis symptoms but also significantly reduce disease progression while providing other long-lasting and far-reaching health benefits.
If you have other meal suggestions or had any experience with an anti-inflammatory food or spice not mentioned here, feel free to share in the comment section below.
Healthy Foods For Rheumatoid Arthritis
Any rheumatoid arthritis diet you settle for should boast foods like grains, vegetables, and fruits. This diet should also consist of lean proteins, low-fat or minimal dairy, as little processed sugar as possible, restricted alcohol intake, and a small amount of saturated and trans fats.
That said, here are the top nine helpful foods and spices for rheumatoid arthritis, summing the list of the best food for rheumatoid arthritis. They are cheap, easy to prepare, and tasty, and can be combined with other food items or even consumed alone.
A common food ingredient, garlic is packed with several nutritional qualities aside from its anti-cancer and heart-friendly qualities.
People suffering from rheumatoid arthritis can benefit from using garlic as it has been shown to hold anti-inflammatory properties that could lessen the symptoms of the disorder. Also, in some studies, garlic was shown to aid the immune system and improve health.
More specifically, garlic was found to reduce the risk of hip osteoarthritis in people who ate more garlic in an analysis of 1,086 twins thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. This makes garlic a key ingredient in an anti-inflammatory diet plan.
2. Whole Grains
Unlike refined grains, whole grains are rich in nutrients and compounds required for a stronger immune system. Whole grains such as whole wheat, quinoa, brown rice, and oats are higher in nutrients and fiber.
They are also free of added sugars and saturated fats. And all of these qualities are needed to reduce inflammation and reduce the risk of heart disease, a condition that commonly occurs in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Many fruits are packed with anti-inflammatory compounds that could be beneficial to people with rheumatoid arthritis.
A rheumatoid arthritis diet should include fruits at breakfast, snacks, and dinner to fight off inflammation and reduce the symptoms of this condition.
Some common nutrient-dense anti-inflammatory fruits include blueberries, cherries, strawberries, apples, pomegranates, and papayas. Eat as many of these as you can in season and include others that are not mentioned here.
4. Fatty Fish
Unless otherwise advised by your nutritionist or health professional for any reason, your rheumatoid arthritis diet plan should consist of fatty fish. Salmon, herring, tuna, sardines are great examples. These fish types are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. And your body needs a balance of omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids (found in meats, processed foods, and certain oils) to lessen and fight off inflammation common in conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
And this fact is even backed by science, so fatty fish must be part of any anti-inflammatory diet plan. In some of these studies, participants who were fed with fatty fish, lean fish, or lean meat weekly had reduced levels of the inflammation-related compound after just eight weeks.
Also, fish is a rich source of vitamin D, and in some studies, rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions were linked to low vitamin D levels.
One of the most nutritious foods available, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, has been found to contain anti-inflammatory qualities. In some studies, these vegetables were discovered to reduce inflammatory level markers.
Sulforaphane, a compound in these crucifers, has also been found in studies to block the formation of a cell type connected to the development of rheumatoid arthritis and reduce some inflammatory markers of rheumatoid arthritis. Broccoli should be added to your anti-inflammatory diet plan.
Another nutrient-rich food, grapes remain the best food for rheumatoid arthritis. It is rich in antioxidants needed for overall wellbeing and contains several anti-inflammatory qualities.
In a study, inflammatory markers significantly decreased in the blood of 24 men given about 252 grams of concentrated grape powder for three weeks.
In another study, resveratrol (contained in grapes and certain other seeds and plants) was found to be potent for preventing joint thickening, a condition linked with arthritis by blocking the formation of RA cells.
7. Peas And Beans
Like many other legumes, peas and beans deserve a place in any rheumatoid arthritis diet. They are amazing sources of protein that people with RA can benefit from. As people with rheumatoid arthritis are prone to muscle wasting, these plant proteins support and boost muscle health.
Legumes like peas and beans are also rich in antioxidants, fat-free, rich in folic acid, magnesium, iron, zinc, and potassium, all of which are essential for their immune-boosting and heart-friendly qualities.
8. Olive Oil
No anti-inflammatory diet plan can be complete without olive oil. It contains beneficial compounds such as tocopherols known to decrease the levels of inflammatory chemicals.
In some studies, participants who consumed olive or fish oil had significantly lesser inflammatory marker levels by the end of the 24 weeks.
In another study of participants without rheumatoid arthritis, olive oil consumption was found to be connected with a lower risk of the condition.
Also, olive oil (especially extra-virgin olive oil) is safer and more beneficial for the heart than many other cooking oils and contains some of the healthiest nutrients for heart health.
While more studies are needed on the effects of olive oil on arthritis, making olive oil and other healthy fats a part of your rheumatoid arthritis diet plan will massively improve your health and lessen the accompanying symptoms.
A widely-studied medicinal spice, turmeric holds several health-boosting properties. One of them is its anti-inflammatory qualities. Even non-RA sufferers or those prone to developing the condition can benefit from using turmeric as the compound is known to prevent inflammation.
Turmeric is also known to lessen the level of cytokines, a compound secreted by the immune system, and known to cause inflammation in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Turmeric also reduces oxidative stress, consequently boosting the body’s ability to fight toxins. The best part? It can be enjoyed in your rheumatoid arthritis diet as a tea, a topping, or cooked with meals with many of its benefits still intact.
While rheumatoid arthritis cannot be treated or cured with a diet, an anti-inflammatory diet plan can go a long way in reducing the severity of symptoms commonly associated with the condition.
Foods in this diet like the ones discussed here are rich in compounds that fight off inflammation, prevent muscle wasting while also supporting overall health. They are also cheap, easy to prepare, and incredibly tasty when prepared right.
Along with conventional rheumatoid arthritis treatments, sufferers should see a significant improvement in their condition from starting the anti-inflammatory diet plan.
However, ensure that you consult with your health practitioner before following any rheumatoid arthritis diet plan or any diet that strictly requires you to eliminate certain food types.
Also, ensure that you’re not allergic to any of the foods you include in your RA diet plan. Eliminate any potential allergy-triggering food and replace it with a safer alternative for you.
Finally, an overall lifestyle change may be required especially in the areas of exercise and fitness.
As you implement a rheumatoid arthritis diet plan, complement it with an active lifestyle. Go jogging, running, use the treadmill, and any other activity that gets your body moving and helps you stay in good shape.