Can your diet affect your RA symptoms?
Co-created with Dr. Henry Averns
Are you considering how to improve your diet and lifestyle following your RA diagnosis?
A diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) often prompts a lifestyle review. As such, this provides a great opportunity to evaluate your diet and possibly refresh your meal choices. In combination with physical activity and an improved interest in your own health and wellbeing, healthy eating can help by giving you energy to get through your day, as well as help promote a strong immune system, and healthy bones and tissues.1
Often, a nutritious, balanced eating program is the best approach. The key relationship between diet and RA is weight. A combination of healthy eating and regular exercise may help to address these symptoms. A healthy diet should comprise of mainly plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.1 Aim to eat more of these foods and limit the amount of red meats and processed foods.2
Although there is not a specific diet plan which is proven to assist RA sufferers, there are multiple options which are thought to help reduce inflammation and improve overall health, which may be worth exploring. One of these is the Mediterranean diet which is abundant in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, olive oil and sources of lean protein, including fish and poultry.3
In addition to exploring a healthy eating plan, here are a few foods you may want to consider:
Turmeric: contains curcumin, an active chemical that has anti-inflammatory properties. This may help to reduce pain, inflammation and stiffness.4
Beans: packed with several antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds.
Nuts and seeds: full of inflammation-fighting monounsaturated fat and protein. In addition, they are jam-packed with fibre, making them a great option if you are trying to lose weight.
Avoiding certain foods that seem to aggravate your symptoms may be worth trying, but please do not exclude whole food groups or large numbers of foods without consulting a registered dietitian, nutritionist or your doctor first. Common sense is key!
There is no authorized arthritis diet plan. This needs to be formulated through a personalized, controlled system, of trial and error. Diarize, document and evaluate these changes systematically, to recognize any joint improvement and what works best for your RA.
Although it should be noted, that this is an individual journey, what works for you may not work for someone else. The golden rule to remember, as explained by medical experts, is to maintain a healthy body weight, eat a balanced diet and incorporate the occasional treat to keep life fun!