Rheumatoid arthritis is a debilitating and devastating illness, but you can do some things to reduce the pain and fatigue, including developing a proper diet plan. For example, fatty foods can exacerbate the effects of rheumatoid arthritis as can foods that promote weight gain – sugars and breads.
Trial and error might be in order to pinpoint some foods that might be causing flare-ups of rheumatoid arthritis. Then, you can eliminate them as needed. Here are some types of foods to avoid and some to include in a diet that may ease pain, stiffness and tiredness:
· Avoid fatty foods – Saturated fats found in some foods such as butter, bacon and various dairy products might increase inflammation. Chemicals called prostaglandins are found in these foods and have been identified as culprits in arthritic joint destruction. Meats contain arachidonic acid, which can convert to prostaglandins after it’s ingested.
· A vegetarian diet can help – Some people find that eliminating meat and adopting a completely vegetarian diet helps relieve the pain and stiffness caused by rheumatoid arthritis. Others find no advantage to eating a meat-free diet.
· Eliminate alcohol – It’s best to entirely eliminate alcohol from your diet if you’ve been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. On the other hand, research shows that alcohol may protect against developing the disease. If you’re taking arthritis medication, be sure to talk to your health care provider about harmful side-effects.
· Take vitamins – Certain vitamins and minerals should be included in any diet to prevent symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis – especially if you take certain prescriptions such as methotrexate. A diet high in folic acid (a B vitamin) can help to alleviate side-effects of methotrexate and also helps manufacture important red blood cells. Selenium, found in tuna, is also a good way to prevent damage to tissue. Vitamin D can prevent bone loss.
· Foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids – Foods such as nuts, some fish, flax seed and soybean products are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids that can effectively reduce inflammation. As an added benefit, these fatty acids also help prevent heart disease, which is more likely in those who have rheumatoid arthritis.
· Consider a Mediterranean diet – Research has shown that cases of rheumatoid arthritis are rare in Mediterranean countries such as Italy and Greece – or less severe if diagnosed. A Mediterranean diet consists of fruits, vegetables and foods rich in vitamin C. Olive oil and legumes also figure in to this healthy and disease-fighting diet.
Although there is no specific “arthritis diet,” customizing your diet by identifying certain trigger foods may be a way to improve your own diet and get rid of some of the debilitating and painful symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.