Diet for rheumatoid arthritis patients focuses on consuming foods that help to heal the inflammation and pain of the joints affected by arthritis and eliminating foods that trigger flare-ups.
Preliminary evidence from a University of Oslo study suggests that food allergies may trigger pain and inflammation of the joints in rheumatoid arthritis patients. Researchers have found that levels of antibodies to proteins from wheat, cow’s milk, egg, pork and codfish in the intestinal fluid of rheumatoid arthritis patients are higher than that in people without rheumatoid arthritis.
The antibodies and proteins produced in response to the food allergies combine to form immune complexes that travel throughout the body. Immune complexes accumulating in the joints trigger joint pain and inflammation. Hence, if you feel that the symptoms of arthritis seem to worsen after a meal, it is necessary to identify the allergen through allergy tests and eliminate them from the diet.
Balance Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids
Imbalance in omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in the diet is frequently blamed for stimulating inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. To decrease the risk of arthritis flare-ups, reduce consumption of omega-6 fatty acid rich foods such as corn, sunflower, soybean, cottonseed and safflower oils, red meat, egg yolk and margarine and increase consumption of omega-3 fatty acid rich fatty fish, fish oil, flaxseeds, walnuts and whole grains.
Omega-3 fatty acids suppress activities of the inflammatory COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes, thereby alleviating the symptoms of arthritis. However, few studies have shown that a type of omega-6 fatty acids called gamma linolenic acid (GLA) can be beneficial for people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. GLA is usually taken in the form of supplements. Borage seed oil, blackcurrant seed oil and evening primrose oil are common sources of this beneficial fat.
Limit Fat Intake
Fat cells in the body may contribute to the production of inflammatory proteins called cytokines. Limiting fat intake can help to improve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Limit your daily intake of saturated fats present in milk and dairy product to less than 10 percent of your daily calorie intake.The healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats including the aforementioned omega-3 fatty acids should be less than 20 percent of your regular calorie consumption. Ideally, you should take saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in the ratio of 1:1:1.
Consume Fiber Rich Foods
The benefits of a fiber rich diet need not be reiterated. Several studies have revealed the importance of fiber in healthy living. A high fiber diet is believed to be responsible for lower incidence of rheumatoid arthritis among vegetarians and vegans who consume large amounts of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. By inhibiting production of C-reactive protein, a substance that triggers inflammation, fibers can treat a range of inflammatory disorders including rheumatoid arthritis.
Eat Anthocyanin Rich Fruits
Anthocyanins are phytochemicals present in red, blue and purple colored fruits. These plant pigments posses powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Fruits such as cherries and strawberries that contain large amounts of anthocyanins are considered beneficial for people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.