If you suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), it may feel like there’s not much that can be done to avoid the painful stiffness and swelling in your joints. However, studies are discovering that certain foods and other dietary changes can actually alleviate pain associated with RA while, at the same time, other foods and habits may exacerbate the symptoms. According to an article in Health.com, “Anywhere from 33% to 75% of people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) feel that there are some foods that make symptoms, such as stiff and painful joints, better or worse.” While everyone is different and there is still much research to do, here are a few tips that may point you in the right, pain-reducing, direction:
- Lose Excess Weight: For every 10 pounds of excess weight you lose, you can take as much as 30 pounds of added pressure off your joints. Getting down to your ideal weight will decrease much of the pain associated with RA and will improve your overall quality of life.
- Eat Omega-3s: For many years now, we’ve been hearing all about the low-fat or no-fat approach to healthy living. But now, we know better. Your body needs a balance of Omega-6 fatty acids and Omega-3 fatty acids and since Omega-3s take a little more effort to fit into our diet, we focus on them. Omega-3s fight inflammation which will reduce swelling and other effects of RA. RA is a highly inflammatory condition, so the more anti-inflammatory foods like salmon, nuts and beans you can eat, the better you’ll feel.
- Make it Mediterranean: The Mediterranean diet is lauded for its immense health benefits – and rightly so! This eating culture focuses on fresh, seasonal fruit and veggies, healthy fats and lean meats; all of which are highly capable of fighting inflammation. One study out of Sweden found that RA sufferers who ate a Mediterranean style diet for 3 months gained “improved physical functioning and vitality” compared to the subjects with RA who did not adhere to the Mediterranean cultural way of eating.
- Check Your Vitamins: Studies have shown that vitamin E supplements may relieve some RA symptoms like joint destruction and pain. Selenium and fish oil supplements have also been researched as possible natural RA alleviators, but the jury is still out and the results of these studies are not conclusive. It’s best to consult your doctor and follow any supplement regimen that he or she may recommend.
- Find Out About Possible Allergies: Allergies are an inflammatory response in your body, so food allergies and sensitivities, especially allergies to dairy or shellfish, have been known to exacerbate the symptoms of RA. If you know that you have even mild allergies, it’s best to stay away from those foods altogether. If you’re not sure, you can get an allergy test from your doctor or you can try an elimination diet to see if your symptoms improve.
Always consult your chiropractor or primary care physician for all health related advice.
Image Credit: Salmon Dinner-4 by Gwen K Davie. Used under a creative commons license.
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