This is especially true if the autoimmune activity that prompts its characteristic symptoms – joint swelling, redness and pain – is not controlled effectively. Along with medication, a healthy eating plan, tailored to the specific needs of RA patients can help with symptoms like joint pain and swelling, and aid in maintaining or improving overall health and well-being – important factors in terms of quality of life. So what is a good rheumatoid arthritis diet and how can choosing the right foods help?
About Changing Your Diet
The first thing you should know about making dietary changes is that working with your doctor as you plan those changes is important. Drastic changes in your diet can interact with some RA medications. The second important fact to know is that while a healthy RA diet can help ease symptoms in many cases, no special diet will cure the disease.
The place to start in planning a healthy RA diet is with basic healthy eating principles.
The Arthritis Foundation recommends a diet that is low in processed foods and saturated fats, high in fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts and beans for arthritis suffers (along with pretty much everyone else).
Maintaining overall health is important to successful management of RA, and good nutrition can help. It reduces the risk of developing a number of chronic diseases and health conditions. Arthritis-specific diet benefits are substantial: it can help curb inflammation, reduce symptoms and lead to weight loss, which can relieve day-to-day stress on the joints.
Specific Foods That Can Help With RA Symptoms
A solid, healthy well-balanced daily diet can be a good step in terms of managing RA. However, including ample amounts of certain nutrients that are especially important to RA sufferers can provide additional benefits in controlling symptoms and avoiding some of the potential long-term complications of the disease. You can ensure that you are getting plenty of these nutrients by adding the following foods to your diet:
Cold water fish – These include tuna, herring, salmon, sardines and mackerel, and are rich in Omega-3 essential fatty acids. Such fatty acids are among the most powerful anti-inflammatory agents found in food. In some cases, RA patients have been able to reduce the amount of medication they need to control these symptoms by increasing intake of Omega-3s.
Nuts – Rich in inflammation-fighting monounsaturated fat, vitamin B6 and fiber, nuts like walnuts, pistachios, almonds and pine nuts can be very helpful in fighting the symptoms of RA.
Fruits and vegetables – Fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants, which help reduce daily damage to cells throughout the body. They are also loaded with vitamins and minerals that can help moderate inflammation, including vitamins C and K, magnesium and selenium. Most fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber, and a high fiber diet has been shown to reduce inflammation. Additionally, red or purple fruits, such as cherries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries contain natural chemicals called anthocyanins that have an anti-inflammatory effect.
Low Fat Dairy – Dairy products are rich in calcium and many are fortified with vitamin D. These nutrients are both essential for bone health, which can be compromised by some RA medications, and getting enough vitamin D also aids in regulating the immune system and controlling inflammation. Choosing low fat dairy is beneficial for obvious reasons. The less stress you put on joints from adding weight, the better.
Other inflammation – fighting foods include olive oil, beans and whole grains. As stated above, consult with your doctor before making any radical changes to your diet, especially if you’re taking RA related medication.While eating well and including anti-inflammatory foods in your diet is not a magic bullet, it can certainly be an important component of an effective RA treatment plan.