It is true that there is no simple cure for rheumatoid arthritis. However, if you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis symptoms such as joint pain and inflammation, it is a good idea to have a nutritious diet and avoid red flag foods that have been proven to worsen the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, says Dr. Raj at the Beverly Hills Orthopedic Institute.
You might be saying to yourself, “Okay, sure Doc! Easier said than done.” Well…true. But just like any other lifestyle change, this one is going to take hard work and dedication. As the old saying goes, “Anything worth having is worth fighting for.” And in the case of your health, this couldn’t be more true, for if you don’t have your health you don’t have anything.
Where to begin:
Ok. So now we can all agree that health is the most important thing. So now where do you start?
As mentioned before, rheumatoid arthritis is a tricky condition as we don’t know what causes it or cures it. What we do know is how to reduce the symptoms and put it into remission. The key to reducing inflammation is by avoiding inflammatory foods that lead to becoming overweight and less active. Extra pounds put strain on your joints and cause further pain and injury. They also reduce energy levels making it difficult to find the motivation to exercise.
Read on to find out what foods are bad and good for rheumatoid arthritis.
Foods That Can Worsen Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms
There is a debate over whether or not diet alone can put rheumatoid arthritis into remission, or if drug therapy is the leading source of symptom management. Dr. Raj at the Beverly Hills Orthopedic Institute suggests that it is a good idea to cover all of your bases. In other words, is one’s best interest to take advantage of the gift of modern medicine coupled with healthy-living habits.
What you eat, or avid eating, can make a significant difference in your rheumatoid arthritis. Here are some foods to think twice about, as they can contribute to inflammation and becoming overweight:
1. Red Meat.
Most red meats contain high levels of saturated fat, which can exacerbate inflammation and also contribute to obesity. Red meat also contains omega-6 fatty acids, which can cause inflammation if you ingest more that the recommended daily dose. Studies have shown many people’s rheumatoid arthritis improve from limiting their intake of red meats.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to rid your diet of red meat entirely. Lean cuts of red meat may provide protein and important nutrients for people with rheumatoid arthritis, without causing additional inflammation.
Keep in mind that the human body takes 7-days to digest red meat. Thus, it makes perfect sense to limit your intake of red meat to one per week. Everything in moderation, as they say.
2. Sugar and refined flour.
Candy, sugary snacks and drinks, white-flour, white bread and pasta, and white rice. All of these foods—if we can call them that—will prompt the body to produce pro-inflammatory chemicals called cytokines. These cytokines can worsen your rheumatoid arthritis inflammation in your joints. Moreover, these foods can cause you to gain weight quickly, which puts extra stresses on your joints, and causing pain.
3. Fried foods.
One of the worst things you can do to worsen rheumatoid arthritis and cause more inflammation is eat fried foods. These foods contain toxins called advanced glycation end products, which can increase oxidation in the body’s cells. And as we all well know, fried foods are high in fat and can contribute to obesity.
Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, rye, and barley, and may contribute to inflammation in some people who have an intolerance. Many doctors believe that gluten’s effects can have an extremely harsh effect on people with an autoimmune disorder such as celiac disease or rheumatoid arthritis.
Even if you do not have a severe intolerance, too much gluten is not good for anyone. Remember that balance is everything.
The effect of alcohol on rheumatoid arthritis is not definitive, but we can all agree that consuming too much alcohol comes along with a lot more negatives than it does positives.
An abundance of alcohol can cause a spike in the C-reactive protein. CRP is a powerful signal of inflammation, and findings show that an abundance of alcohol can increase inflammation and worsen rheumatoid arthritis.
That being said, moderate alcohol consumption has been shown to slow the progression of rheumatoid arthritis. Studies have shown that Women who drank a few glasses of wine per week had half the risk for rheumatoid arthritis that non-drinkers. It is a delicate balance.
6. Processed foods.
A product of the 70’s, we are only beginning to learn the severe negative effects of processed foods. They’re ubiquitous, they’re easy to grab-and-go, and we can’t deny that some of them hit the spot. If you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis you should make a strong effort to rid your diet of processed foods entirely. This is not a moderation type of situation.
Processed foods are loaded with ingredients that cause inflammation. These products (not foods) are packed with sugar, refined flour, and saturated fats. It is very important to read the nutrition and ingredients labels on anything you put into your body.
Here is a good rule of thumb—if you can’t pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t put it into your body.
Foods That Can Help Your Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms:
This green leaved herb has many different names — coriander, cilantro, Chinese parsley—you choose! Coriander is one of the many nutraceuticals that can have a beneficial effect on chronic inflammatory diseases such as, rheumatoid arthritis.
Turmeric contains curcumin, which has been shown to reduce inflammation at the cellular level. Mustards are a good source of turmeric and probably the easiest way to incorporate it into your diet. Also check out golden milk, as it is a tasty treat if prepared properly.
Ginger is a well known way to calm inflammation in the body. Like turmeric, ginger also contains chemicals that work as an anti-inflammatory for rheumatoid arthritis. Ginger is easy to incorporate into your diet. Eat it with your sushi, in your tea, or add it to a simple stir-fry.
4. Pineapple Stem.
The stem of a pineapple contains bromelain, a digestive enzyme that has been shown to reduce inflammation in people with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Since the stem of a pineapple isn’t edible, you should to get bromelain in capsule or pill form. A study of a complex of three plant extracts — bromelain, turmeric, and Devil’s claw, found these to be a successful alternative to other anti-inflammatory drugs.
Look online and you see many people with rheumatoid arthritis swearing by molasses. It’s rich in vitamins and nutrients, including magnesium which helps preserve nerve and muscle function as well as joint cartilage. Low levels of magnesium are common in people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, and can be a contributing factor for heart disease. Other good sources of magnesium are nuts, beans, whole grains, bananas, and green vegetables.
6. Green tea.
Dr. Raj strongly suggests that people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis drink a cup of green tea a day. Just add some molasses and you have a double-whammy!
7. Cherries and pomegranates.
These fruits contain the flavonoid anthocyanin. Studies have found that pomegranate juice has many beneficial properties, the prevention of inflammation. The same goes for cherries. Treat yourself and do your body some good.
8. Fish oil.
This is most prevalent in wild salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, and trout. Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which work to decrease inflammation and reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Consider eating fatty fish like salmon twice a week or supplementing with fish oil capsules. Dr. Raj can’t stress this one enough!
End note: Think of these adjustments as steps to better rheumatoid arthritis management and overall wellbeing and quality of life.