Is there a proper diet for rheumatoid arthritis sufferers?

What is the link between rheumatoid arthritis and the foods we eat? Can a proper diet relieve arthritis symptoms? You may have heard that specific foods can help ease your arthritis pain so we have compiled information that can help you separate the myths from the facts.

Eating and avoiding certain foods may help relieve your rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. Unlike gout, the Arthritis Foundation does not endorse diets that treat arthritis. In this matter, personal observance of foods that worsen or improve your symptoms is key—your body tells you what’s best so make adjustments in your diet accordingly.

A known way of assessing symptoms triggered by food is by going through an elimination diet. An elimination diet helps you identify which foods trigger your arthritis symptoms. By eliminating suspect foods from your daily diet and slowly adding them back after a period of time, you may notice which ones increase pain and stiffness. After picking out the obvious culprits, eliminating them altogether may help decrease overall rheumatoid arthritis symptoms in the long run.

While an elimination diet may prove workable for some, going though a trial and error method may seem like a complete waste of time for others. Studies have shown that saturated fats increase inflammation in the body—part of the top-foods-to-avoid list in gout. Animal products high in saturated fats such as bacon, steak, and butter increase chemicals in the body called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are chemicals that cause inflammation and swelling in arthritis.

Linked to prostaglandins is a fatty acid called arachidonic acid, which is converted by the body to the former. This type of acid is found in high concentration on red meats. This is part of the reason some people claim that switching to a vegetarian diet helped relieve their symptoms of pain and stiffness. While this may be true for some, others get no benefit from a meat-free diet.

Excessive amounts of omega-6 fatty acids is linked to promoting inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. Instead, replacing omega-6 fatty acids with omega-3 fatty acids, on the other hand, may suppress inflammation. Omega-6 fatty acids are found in vegetable oils that contain linoleic acid such as corn oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, and sesame oil. Omega-3 fatty acid is a fat normally found in cold-water fish, nuts, and soybean products. Studies have shown a positive anti-inflammatory effect of omega-3 on rheumatoid arthritis; it also helps reduce the risks of heart disease.

Taking fish oil supplements that contain omega-3 may help reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, but it may take weeks before you see any decrease in symptoms.

Mediterranean countries such as Greece and Italy have less-severe cases of rheumatoid arthritis. A Mediterranean-style diet comprised of large amounts of fruits, vegetables, olive oil and fatty fish may lower the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.

It may also come as a surprise to you but drinking alcohol has been linked to reduced chances of getting rheumatoid arthritis. However, this theory is not backed by strong evidence and the relationship of how alcohol protects against arthritis is still unknown.

Finally, keep your weight at a healthy level. Weight loss reduces the strain on joints such as hips and knees, not to mention your heart.

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