Diet is an essential part of our lives. Your diet can either improve your health or make you sick. Though diet can’t cure rheumatoid arthritis, a healthy diet can actually help you get significant relief and prevent flare-ups.
However, a healthy diet can help in another way. Eating healthy foods will help you achieve a normal weight and maintain it, which is also crucial for RA management. Being overweight or obese accelerates joint damage and worsens other RA symptoms. First, extra weight puts strain on your joints triggering pain and injury, especially in the knees, hips, and ankles. Second, excess weight promotes chronic inflammation and speeds up the progression of the disease.
There is no known diet that can replace drug therapy or put your arthritis in remission. And you can’t cure your RA pain with a healthy diet. If your pain and other RA symptoms are getting worse, consult a pain specialist and rheumatologist.
However, what you consume — or don’t consume — will make a difference. Let’s look at some foods that will provide you with extra calories and cause inflammation that worsens your RA symptoms.
The impact of alcohol on rheumatoid arthritis is still not well understood. Moderate alcohol consumption has been shown to lower the risk of rheumatoid arthritis. According to research published in Arthritis & Rheumatology, women who consumed more than three glasses of alcohol per week had half the risk for rheumatoid arthritis than people who don’t drink alcohol at all.
However, high alcohol consumption can provoke a sudden increase in the body’s levels of C-reactive protein (CRP). CRP is a powerful indicator of inflammation. Most RA medications are metabolized by the liver, that’s why alcohol consumption should be limited.
2. Fried foods
Limiting the consumption of fried foods can lower inflammation. That’s due to the fact that fried foods contain toxins called advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which can promote oxidative stress, that increases the number of tissue-damaging free radicals. Fried foods are also rich in fat and can lead to obesity.
3. Processed foods
Processed foods are full of ingredients that promote inflammation. Such products or packaged foods are high in sugar, refined flour, and saturated fats that can worsen RA symptoms and lead to weight gain.
4. Red meat
Red meat is packed with saturated fat which can worsen chronic inflammation and also provoke weight gain. Red meat also has omega-6 fatty acids, which can result in overall inflammation if your consumption is too high. Some RA sufferers have reported that their symptoms improve when they eliminate red meat from their diet.
Fish and lean meat are good alternatives to red meat and can provide enough protein. The healthiest choices include salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines, herring, and chicken breast. Plus, fatty fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to lower inflammation and might help improve the feeling of tender and swollen joints.
Gluten is a protein that’s found in grains like wheat, rye, and barley. It might lead to inflammation in some people. Medical experts suggest that the effect can be even greater for people with an autoimmune condition such as celiac disease or rheumatoid arthritis. If gluten provokes a flare, it’s best to eliminate it from your diet.
Your blood glucose levels can spike after you’ve eaten simple carbohydrates that are easily digested by the body. Foods that are high in simple carbs include sugary snacks and drinks, white-flour pasta and bread, and white rice. Blood glucose fluctuations can cause your body to produce more pro-inflammatory chemicals known as cytokines. These cytokines can exacerbate your RA symptoms. These foods also promote obesity, stressing your inflamed joints.