How changing your diet could help with your Rheumatoid Arthritis

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How changing your diet could help with your Rheumatoid Arthritis

2nd March 2015 09:09 AM

Author: Samantha Farmer

I am a Nurtitional Therapist with an interest in autoimmune conditions and in this blog I am looking particularly at the link between diet and Rheumatoid Artritis.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system causes inflammation of the joints and synovial membranes.  The main symptoms are swelling and joint pain.  It can be debilitating and extremely painful.  Equally there can be some psychological factors to RA such as pessimism or depression or low self-esteem.

The frequency of RA is becoming more common, and women outnumber men by about 3:1.  Many people have been told that this is a complaint related to aging, but the increase of arthritic complaints in the young suggests otherwise.

Although unknown, the considered causes include genetics, gut permealbility, possible antibody and immune complese abnormality, and environment factors may be involved such as food allergies or bacterial infections. An unbalanced diet and antibiotic use can lead to a disrupted microbiome (gut bacteria).  Many of these factors can be identified and modified to ease pain and inflammation.

The diet we eat can have a sunstantial impact on the control if inflammations both positively and negatively.  It is interesting to note that RA is uncommon in societies that eat more primitive diets, but widespread in societies consuming Western diets.  This strongly suggests the diets we eat are exacerbating the problem.

So what foods should someone with RA avoid and which foods can help reduce pain and inflammation?

Firstly, and it will come as no surprise, reducing sugar and grains can be a great start, but possibly one of the most difficult changes to make as both feature strongly in our modern day diets.  However, many sufferers of RA have found a profound improvement in their symptoms when they have reduced sugar and gone gluten-free. It should be pointed out that due to distinct differences between individuals this might not benefit everyone. 

A predominant vegetarian diet has also been cited as beneficial as vegetables are alkaline, where meat and grains are more acidic.  Acidic foods are strongly linked to inflammation.  Vegetables also contain high levels of antioxidants and these have been found to be low in most RA sufferers.

There are reports that foods of the nightshade family (peppers, aubergine, tomatoes, potato and tobacco) may promote arthritic symptoms, but there is little scientific evidence to back this up.  Few would argue that stopping smoking isn't beneficial, but these vegetables offer many nutritional benefits to help to protect the body and should not be excluded from the diet unnecessarily.

Oily fish has many benefits to health and is highly recommended for many health issues. Its content of essential fatty acids in the form of Omega-3 promotes anti-inflammatory compounds and has been seen to reduce morning stiffness and sore joints. 

Elimination of allergens and bowel detoxification presents a viable therapeutic approach to supporting the reduction of RA symptoms, followed by a healthy diet rich in wholefoods, fibre, vegetables and cold water fish.

Other sources of relief can include the incorporation of gentle daily exercise, heat and cold therapies, acupuncture and massage.  Spirituality and the development or meditation and mindfulness practices can assist with pain control and general improvements to arthritic conditions.

Clearly there are many actions that can be taken to improve the symptoms of RA. Understanding the possible causes, taking control of our diets and making sensible lifestyle changes can impact extremely positively on the symptoms experienced and assist the enjoyment of life more fully


Tags: Rheumatoid Arthritis

Treatments: Nutritional Therapy

Practitioners: Samantha Farmer

The views expressed in these blogs are those of the blog authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Bridge Centre for Natural Health.

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