Nutrition for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Nutrition forRheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease of the smaller joints, such as wrists, ankles, fingers and knees. This typically happens on both sides of the body (both hands, wrists, and/or knees), and this symmetry helps distinguish rheumatoid from other types of arthritis. Unlike the wear-and-tear damage of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of your joints, causing a painful swelling that can eventually result in bone erosion and joint deformity. It is an autoimmune disorder, and is thought to be a case of the body’s own immune system attacking joint tissue. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease and tends to progress with time, but many people find the pain and stiffness comes and goes for varying periods of time.

Signs and symptomsof rheumatoid arthritis may include:

• Tender, warm,swollen joints

• Joint stiffness that is usually worse in the mornings and after inactivity

• Fatigue, fever and loss of appetite

Nutrition tips

Researchers have found at least one third of people can help control their RA by eliminating foods to which they have an intolerance. The most common culprits are dairy, plus the night shade family (peppers,tomatoes etc.) Processed foods, refined sugar and foods that cause the body’s pH to become acidic can also contribute to RA. 

To help resolve RA, include in your diet cold-water fish such as herring, mackerel, trout, salmon and tuna. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil are the most promising natural anti-inflammatories in food. Studies have shown that fish oil can relieve tender joint pain and ease morning stiffness. You can also increase your intake of omega 3's by taking a high quality omega 3 supplement or fish oil.

Processed and poor quality meats can contribute to inflammation, so if you include meat in your diet, it is important to look for good quality and organic meat when possible. Increasing your intake of fibre from fruits, vegetables and whole grains may also help reduce inflammation.

The bottom line when considering nutrition and RA is to maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet. One way to achieve this is to consider adopting a Mediterranean diet, which includes plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, fruits, vegetables and whole grains, plus the anti-inflammatory and protective benefits of olive oil.

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