There is some evidence that intake of certain type of foods and nutrients aids in relieving some of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, but note that there is no “miracle” diet to tackle your problems stemming from rheumatoid arthritis. Eating generous amounts of vegetables and fruits, eliminating any offending food items, consuming oily fish, cutting back on red meat, adopting a Mediterranean type of diet and taking vitamin and mineral supplements can go a long way in helping you deal with rheumatoid arthritis.
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Vegetables and Fruits
There is evidence to suggest that the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis improve with a vegetarian diet. The laboratory values of rheumatoid factor and C reactive protein, which are elevated in this disease, normalize on this type of diet. Conversely, more intake of meat predisposes one to the disease. Vegetables and fruits contain helpful items like fiber, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals.
Foods having antioxidants such as beta-cryptoxanthin (like citrus fruits) and zeaxanthin (like green leafy vegetables) are particularly helpful in combating the symptoms. So, everyone suffering from this arthritis should help themselves to at least 5 servings of vegetables and fruits per day.
Fish like sardines, herring, mackerel, fresh tuna, swordfish, salmon, snapper and marlin contain rich amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for patients with this arthritis. Omega-3 fats are found to reduce the inflammation, and joint stiffness and pain associated with this disease. Other food items rich in omega-3 fatty acids are walnuts, canola oil, soy and flaxseed oil.
Mediterranean Type of Diet
Incidence of rheumatoid arthritis is lower in the Mediterranean countries, which is attributed to the type of diet they consume. This diet includes fish, poultry, less red meat, plenty of vegetables, fresh fruits, legumes, wholegrain cereals, nuts, seeds and above all, olive oil. Olive oil reduces the production of chemicals that are pro-inflammatory.
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If you are consuming a healthy and balanced diet, then most of your body’s needs for vitamins and minerals are usually met. However, patients with rheumatoid arthritis have been known to have deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals like vitamins B6, B12, C, D and E, calcium, zinc, magnesium and selenium.
Since vitamins and minerals are known to be antioxidants that reduce the inflammation, there may be some benefit to be had by supplementing your diet with vitamins and minerals just in case you are falling short of their optimal daily requirement.
Some foods are found to exacerbate the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis in certain patients. The main foods implicated are meat, milk and processed foods. Other foods that might cause such problems include citrus fruits, tomatoes, potatoes, eggs, nuts, corn, wheat, oats and coffee. So, eliminate them from the diet for a while, and reintroduce them one at a time (every two days) to see if the symptoms flare up. If they do, eliminate the food item from the diet again, and reintroduce it after a while to reconfirm.
It has been shown that fasting provides only temporary relief from the inflammation and pain of rheumatoid arthritis. Symptoms come back within 1 week of going back to normal diet.