Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a disease in which the body's immune system attacks cartilage in the joints. After three months on the diet, arthritis patients lost an average of 6.6 pounds, lowered their cholesterol levels and had significantly less pain in their joints than the control patients who did not change their eating habits.
Eat a diet that is high in fiber and that is not tainted with chemicals, which stress the body. Maximize your intake of fresh vegetables, fruits, fish, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
Make sure your menu includes cold-water fish such as salmon and halibut.
Avoid saturated fats, hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils, rich fattv foods, fried foods, and refined sugar. These substances make the internal environment more acidic. Acid in the joints promotes inflammation, which worsens symptoms and increases pain.
Fasting and 'Cleansing Diets' are sometimes promoted as methods of treating arthritis. There is no evidence that these have any long term benefits.
Many people with arthritis try wearing copper bracelets, presumably because they think copper may be absorbed through the skin and have some good effect on their arthritis. However, there is no evidence that wearing these bracelets helps, but neither do they do any harm!
Omega-3 fatty acids/ GLA
The latest supplement to bring hope to arthritis patients is fish oil. This oil contains what scientists refer to as omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat. Research is showing that, unlike saturated animal fat, omega-3 fatty acids may reduce cholesterol buildup, lower blood pressure, prevent blood clots, and even cut the risk of some types of cancer.
Glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate
Glucosamine is a major component of joint cartilage. Supplements are derived from shrimp, lobster and crab shells. Large, independent clinical trials are currently under way and will hopefully provide more definitive evidence about the use of these agents in arthritis.
Food and nutrition guidelines
Nevertheless, fad diets based on elimination of various "trigger" foods are common for arthritis, especially rheumatoid arthritis. There are claims, for example, that foods from the nightshade family—tomatoes, potatoes, green peppers, and eggplant—can make arthritis worse. One study found that simply eating too many calories appeared to aggravate rheumatoid arthritis. A few other studies have shown that some people who reduce their fat intake, especially vegetarians who eat no dairy or animal products, report less pain than those with high meat consumption.
Recent human trials continue to suggest that a vegetarian diet—sometimes following a fast—may help relieve rheumatoid arthritis, at least in some patients.
Eat a variety of food from each of the following four major food groups every day.
- vegetables and fruits - at least two servings of fruits, and three servings of vegetables i.e. one serving is half a cup of cooked vegetables, or one medium potato or one medium apple
- breads and cereal foods - at least six servings i.e. one serving is one roll or one slice bread or one cup cooked rice
- milk and dairy products, especially the low fat varieties - at least two servings i.e. one serving is one cup of milk or 40g cheese
Research with animals has shown that vitamins A, B, C, D, and E are all related to immune system functions, either by supporting immune response or otherwise regulating the system. Iron deficiency can seriously impair the immune system, reducing its ability to digest bacteria and produce enough of the "T cells" that direct immune response and attack infection. Zinc, copper, magnesium, and selenium also play a role in immune response.
Since rheumatic diseases are often characterized by abnormal immunologic activity as the body "turns on itself," attacking healthy cells, it's natural to assume that strengthening the body with added nutrients could blunt these responses. Unfortunately, supplementation doesn't work on the principle that "if a little is good, more is better." In fact, you can damage your immune system if you take some supplements at too high a dose. So if you choose to add selected supplements to your diet, always consult your doctor first.