Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can lead to debilitating complications. The effect of the disease is systemic, meaning it can also affect other parts of the body that have nothing to do with the joints. A wide range of medications are available, how about diet? Although there is no specific diet to follow, many people with the disease find that some foods make their symptoms worse or better. If you’re looking for best foods to eat for RA, some are outlined below.
RA is a systemic joint disorder in which the body immune system mistakenly destroys the synovial tissues surrounding the joints – causing inflammation, pain, stiffness, and swelling. And over time, again it can also affect other parts of the body, not only the joints. See more the symptoms in here!
While the disease is currently incurable (the treatment goal is to keep the disease go into remission), some studies and trials find that certain foods may be helpful to cope with the disease and ease the symptoms.
But what to remember, we still don’t have a compelling data that can be accurate enough to generalize all patients!
The link of a specific food and RA, for example, is difficult to analyze. This is because your diet can include a wide range of foods containing numerous different chemicals and nutrients. Another challenging thing, it’s difficult to measure the way food intake. Many studies and trials only use ‘questionnaires’ to ask participants about how much and how often they have consumed specific food over a period of time.
Some multiple trials have done, but the effects are not maximal. Even if specific foods do help ease RA symptoms, it’s not easy to sort out individual diet factors.
However, many experts believe that eating right is always important for anyone, especially if you have RA.
Although some foods may help you cope with the disease and ease its symptoms, a well-balanced healthy diet is still the key frame of your diet.
Even though particular food may be beneficial for people with RA, don’t only rely on specific food! Instead, eat a wide variety of healthy foods to gain the most benefits of your diet. Because each food has unique properties!
Include more plant-based foods – for examples; fresh fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Those foods should take about two-thirds of your diet, according to FDA.
Step up on fatty fish
Fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna, herring, and sardines) are rich in anti-inflammatory property called omega-3 fatty acids. If you have RA, eating fish (at least about 3 ounces of fatty fish, twice a week) is recommended to help soothe your inflammation.
Bonus, diet high in healthy fats is also good for your heart. This benefit can help reduce the risk of heart disease, one of common RA complications.
Check out soy
Soy is good source of plant-based protein, high in fiber, and low in fat. It also contains omega-3 fatty acids – it can be your good alternative choice if you’re not a fan of fish.
Furthermore, heart healthy soybeans such as edamame and tofu may help lower your high blood pressure. With all of these benefits, soy can be one of good choices in your RA diet, though the effectiveness of soy as a treatment for RA is not scientifically confirmed yet.
Eat more fresh fruits and veggies!
Studies suggest that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, especially those that are high in vitamin C, may be linked to lower inflammatory arthritis risks. It seems that antioxidant vitamin C may have protective effect on the joints.
But this doesn’t mean that we should start popping vitamin C supplements! Even long-term use of these supplements may be counterproductive.
It’s more recommended to get your vitamin C from fresh fruits and vegetables. Citrus fruits, for examples, are some of the best choices.
Cherries and other purple-red fruits (such as blueberries and strawberries) are also good idea. Bonus, they have another anti-inflammatory property called anthocyanin, which may help reduce the risk of gout attacks.
Although the link between RA and gout remains puzzling, in fact both diseases can be found together. Even some studies suggest that observing or screening for gout is recommended in people with RA (learn more in this section)!
Enjoy green tea
Green tea is not only good in taste, but it’s also high in polyphenols (antioxidants that may help ease inflammation of arthritis and reduce the risk of cartilage destruction). Another essential substance in green tea called EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate) may also have a positive effect to soothe inflammation.
Although the effect of anti-inflammatory properties of EGCG is not fully known in human, it showed promise for reducing ankle swelling in a mouse study-case, according to an article published in the Journal Arthritis of Rheumatology. What is more, EGCG may ease inflammation without interfering with other cellular functions.
Fuel up on whole grain
Whole grains can help reduce the level of C-reactive protein, a sign / a marker of inflammation in the body. High C-reactive protein is not only associated with RA (especially when the disease flares up), but also diabetes and heart disease. Even doctor sometimes needs to measure the level to help evaluate whether or not your RA is controlled as well.
Foods like whole grain cereals, brown rice, and oatmeal are good sources of whole grains. Whole-wheat breads and pastes also provide selenium, an antioxidant. Selenium deficiencies can sometimes be found in people with RA.
The following are other good foods to help cope with RA symptoms: