Nutrition for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an 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 whereby the body’s own immune system starts attacking joint tissue. It 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 symptoms of 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 elimination foods to which they have an intolerance. The most common culprits are any foods and drinks from cows, plus the nightshade family (peppers, tomatoes etc.) RA is virtually unknown in primitive cultures where the diet is mainly alkaline-forming foods, nor do these people have refined foods, which also contribute to RA.

Be sure your diet includes such cold-water fish as herring, mackerel, trout, salmon and tuna. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil are the most promising anti-inflammatory in food. Studies have shown that fish oil can relieve tender joints and ease morning stiffness. Taking an Omega 3 supplement would be very beneficial in order to increase your intake of Omega 3.

Increasing your intake of fibre from fruits, vegetables and whole grains may also help reduce inflammation.

A vegetarian diet has been shown to help some individuals as meat and dairy can create inflammation in the body. If you cannot eliminate meat from your diet, having a few days off meat would be a good alternative.

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 benefits of olive oil.

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