The Dietary Guide for Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients
Dr. Ingy Hashad
PhD of Biochemistry, German University of Cairo
Healthcare Nutritionist, American University in Cairo
Member of the American Association of Continuing Medical Education
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system – which normally protects its health by attacking foreign substances like bacteria and viruses – mistakenly attacks the joints. This creates inflammation that causes the tissue that lines the inside of joints to thicken, resulting in swelling and pain in and around the joints.
RA most commonly affects the joints of the hands, feet, wrists, elbows, knees and ankles. Because RA also can affect body systems, such as the cardiovascular or respiratory systems, it is called a systemic disease.
People with RA are constantly seeking to ease its symptoms with food and dietary supplements. While researchers have turned up no magic elixir to cure RA, several studies show a connection between certain foods and the inflammation that characterizes this autoimmune condition
• Foods that Help Fight RA:
1- Fish :
Certain types of fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which decrease inflammation by reducing the level of interleukin-6, an inflammatory protein in your body. This can relieve tender joints and ease morning stiffness.
If you are not a fan of fish but still want the inflammation-busting benefits of omega-3 fatty acids then go for the soybeans
(tofu ) .Soybeans are also low in fat, high in protein and fiber .
High-fiber foods feed beneficial bacteria living in the gut, which then release substances that promote lower levels of inflammation resulting in lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) in the blood; CRP is an indicator of inflammation
Sources for Fiber intake include fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
4- Olive Oil
Extra-virgin olive oil may also help reduce inflammation, in the same way that a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen can . It contains a compound called oleocanthal that blocks the enzymes that cause inflammation. In addition it contains heart healthy monounsaturated fat and antioxidants.
Research has shown that people
with RA have low levels of selenium, a mineral found in whole-grain wheat products and shellfish such as oysters and crab. It contains antioxidants, which are believed to help control inflammation
Nuts are rich in protein, calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin E and immune-boosting alpha linolenic acid, as well as filling protein and fiber
Studies have shown cherries help reduce the frequency of flares. This is because the anthocyanins found in cherries have an anti-inflammatory effect. Anthocyanins can also be found in other red and purple fruits like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.
Vitamin D may also help lower the risk of RA in older women by helping to regulate the immune system. Good sources of vitamin D include eggs, cereals and low-fat milk.
9- Green Tea
Green tea is packed with polyphenols, antioxidants believed to reduce inflammation and slow cartilage destruction. In addition, there is another antioxidant in green tea called epigallocatechin-3-gallate .This antioxidant blocks the production of molecules that cause joint damage in people RA.
• Foods To Avoid in RA:
1- Omega 6 Fatty acids
Omega-6 fatty acid is found in corn, sunflower and safflower oils. It is also present in many snack and fried foods. Consuming more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3s raises your risk of joint inflammation.
2- Foods Fried at high temperature
Eating hamburgers or other types of food that have been fried at high temperature can raise the amount of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) in the blood. It found that high levels of AGEs have been detected in people with inflammation.
3- Salt :
People with RA may feel salt’s effects even more. Corticosteroids, commonly used to treat RA, cause the body to hold more. RA patient should take care because nearly all canned, ready-made convenience foods contain sodium to keep them from spoiling.
And finally to sum up today’s article, it is important to highlight that the best approach to food for people with RA is a well-balanced diet that should be centered on plant-based foods. Approximately two-thirds of your diet should come from fruits, vegetables and whole grains. The other third should include low-fat dairy products and lean sources of protein.