Dietary Tips to Help with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Picture provided by Mayo Foundation for Medical Education & Research

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease where the body attacks its own tissues, particularly the tissues of the joints. RA affects the synovial membrane (the lining of a joint) causing swelling, pain, and eventually erosion of the bone material underneath. Over time, the erosion of the bone material can cause joints to become severely deformed and result in permanent physical disabilities and chronic pain. A healthy diet geared towards helping those with RA is important. And, below you can find rheumatoid arthritis dietary tips.

Unfortunately, as an autoimmune disorder RA has no cure. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t preventive measures that you can take to combat the severity and frequency of symptoms. In fact, several studies prove that there’s a connection between the foods we eat and RA symptoms. There are some food items that can contribute to inflammation while others may help to combat inflammation. Incorporating the right foods into your diet and eliminating others, you can better manage your RA symptoms.  And, you can even reduce the need for conventional medications.
*Be sure to consult with your doctor before making any dietary or supplement changes to ensure there’s no risk of adverse reactions with your current medications.

Foods that Help Combat RA Symptoms

Omega-3 Fatty Acids


Table provided by the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements

According to the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, one of the most effective natural anti-inflammatories is omega-3 fatty acids. Studies show that omega-3 rich fish oil helps to prevent morning stiffness and reduces inflammation in joints. Other food varieties that are the highest in omega-3 fatty acids include, nuts, seeds, and plant based oils. Use Tables 1 & 2 to identify which foods you can incorporate into your diet and the portions needed to hit your adequate intake recommendation for your age.

omega 3 food sources

Table provided by the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements

Fiber

Studies show that people who eat a high fiber diet have lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) in their blood. CRP is an indicator of the amount of inflammation in the body. So foods that are high in fiber tend to contain numerous vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants needed for joint health.  Examples include vitamins C, D, E, B6, B12, folic acid, selenium, magnesium, zinc, and calcium. Furthermore, the USDA federal guidelines for adequate fiber intake is 38g/day for men ages 19-50 and 30g/day for men over 50. For women ages 19-50, the guidelines are 25g/day and 21g/day for women over 50. Use this list of high-fiber foods to see the fiber content per serving of  foods that you can incorporate into your diet.

Now that you know what foods to incorporate into your diet to help combat inflammation, here is a list of foods to avoid that can contribute to inflammation:

  • Refined wheat
  • Saturated fats
  • Trans fats
  • Alcohol
  • White flour products
  • MSG
  • Aspartame
  • Casein
  • Refined sugar
  • Gluten

Conclusion

If you follow a diet with plenty of foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and high in fiber, you can have a much better chance of keeping your RA symptoms at bay. Furthermore most of the RA dietary guidelines are for foods that make up the Mediterranean diet.  This diet also happens to exclude many of the food items that can contribute to inflammation. Also, these rheumatoid arthritis dietary tips helps reduce inflammation and is also a very heart healthy diet that may even help you to lose weight!

Justin Check

Justin Check is an NCSA certified personal trainer & fitness nutritionist, and the owner/operator of Check Total Health. He has over 8 years in the health and fitness industry, and is an advocate of natural supplements in conjunction with proper diet and exercise in order to help people attain the highest quality of life possible.Justin can be found at www.check-yourself.com.

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