Rheumatoid Arthritis and Diet
Does diet and nutrition affect rheumatoid arthritis? Research in this area shows
confusing and contradicting results. However, some common elements appear regularly
in research studies which would indicate these are worth considering.
Research results and many experts agree that rheumatoid arthritis patients tend
to be deficient in folic acid, B vitamins (B6 and B12), vitamins C, D, and E, calcium,
magnesium, selenium, and zinc. Folic acid and the B vitamins deficiencies occur
especially in patients taking methotrexate. Certainly eating a balanced diet is
the first best form of nutrition, but supplements may be needed to meet the extra
needs of rheumatoid arthritis patients.
Two different studies with mice show that both green tea and a combination of fish
oil with vitamin E reduce the inflammation related to cytokines. The presence of
cytokines (pro-inflammatory) in the blood correlates to inflammation in the joints
resulting in pain for rheumatoid arthritis sufferers.
Some studies indicate that green tea also aids the body in metabolizing fat which
makes it an excellent aid to rheumatoid arthritis patients taking prednisone which
causes excessive fat storage. Whether this works or not, green tea is recognized
as an excellent anti-oxidant and certainly can't hurt patients with autoimmune diseases.
Does diet or certain foods cause flare-ups in rheumatoid arthritis? Again research
is controversial. Many experts recognize that allergens affect rheumatoid arthritis
because it is an autoimmune disease. So anything that affects the immune system
might affect RA. Most experts caution against radical diet changes especially elimination
diets or fasting due to the risks of malnutrition or other side effects.
So what is safe and how do you find what works for you? Careful, logical, and systematic
testing of foods in your diet can give positive information that will help rheumatoid
arthritis sufferers. The best thing to do is begin to journal everything. Keep a
daily log of all food and beverages consumed. With this log, record daily activities
including exercise and anything that causes pain (e.g. opening a jar, lifting, rising,
swollen joints, etc.). Over time if there is a repeated pain with a common cause
then eliminate that food or activity.
Each person is unique and each case of rheumatoid arthritis will vary. Determine
to eat a healthy diet and use supplements as needed in a healthy way. With study,
reasonable effort, and care you can determine the kind of diet and supplements that
work for you.