Rheumatoid arthritis results in pain, inflammation, stiffness, loss of joint function, and in severe cases, even deformity. It affects people who are 25-55 years of age, and is observed more in women than men. It causes inflammation of the tissue around the joints, and other organs in the body. As it is an autoimmune disease, the immune system mistakenly attacks its own body's tissues. Researchers haven't been able to figure out the exact reason as to why the immune system attacks itself, however, genes, environment, and hormones are known to play some role in it.
A lot of research has been carried out to study whether certain foods actually help in relieving symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis or not. Some studies have been able to establish some link between the two, but have suggested further research. Inferences derived so far suggest the following changes in diet of patients suffering from this disorder.
Diet for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Treatment options for rheumatoid arthritis include medication, surgery, lifestyle changes, and incorporation of such foods in the diet which are beneficial for providing relief.
Although fat is an essential requirement of the body, the type of fat can make a lot of difference in effective management of this disorder. Omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in controlling inflammation of the joints. Some of the foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids are listed below:
- Salmon, mackerel, and herring
- Fish oil, such as cod liver, etc.
- Soybeans and soybean oil
- Walnuts and walnut oil
- Fresh avocado and avocado oil
One must also increase the daily intake of raw or steamed foods, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and rice. The medium of cooking should be unsaturated and should contain minimum amount of harmful fats. A high intake of soups, broth, herbal tea, fresh vegetable juices, water, etc., should also be incorporated in the diet. Eating light and healthy food will ensure the availability of adequate vital nutrients in the body.
Foods to Avoid
While some foods provide relief from pain and reduce inflammation, there are foods that do exactly the opposite. Finding such foods and eliminating them is necessary for pain relief.
Food allergies can put a strain on the already weakened immune system and worsen symptoms. Therefore, it is important to eliminate foods that cause allergy or one is intolerant to. Common foods that can cause intolerance or allergies are mostly wheat, milk and dairy products, and synthetic additives and preservatives.
Avoidance of nightshade foods such as tomatoes, capsicums, potatoes, and eggplants for pain relief is highly controversial, but some people have reported less symptomatic pain and inflammation after avoiding their intake. Many of the following foods that contain acids are also known to aggravate and precipitate painful inflammatory flare-ups. It would be best if their intake is kept to the bare minimum, or preferably eliminated from the diet.
- Fried and grilled foods
- Processed foods
- Tea and coffee
- Dairy products
- Refined wheat
- Berries and other citrus fruits
- Excessive salt
- Saturated fats and cooking mediums
Although a specific diet does not claim to cure this disorder, it may help in providing relief from the early symptoms of pain and inflammation. Children also suffer from a common form of arthritis known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Following a proper juvenile rheumatoid arthritis diet can help in keeping the associated discomfort at bay. It is important to have a diet plan chalked out by a professional dietitian, as symptoms and their severity may vary from one patient to the other.