Have rheumatoid arthritis? Treat yourself to some blueberries and a cup of green tea. They’re among the foods that could ease the pain, swelling and stiffness in your joints and even slow progression of the disease, researchers say.
Dried plums, pomegranates, whole grains, the spices ginger and turmeric, and olive oil may also help. These foods appear to reduce inflammation, as well as joint stiffness and pain, according to the authors of a paper published Nov. 8 in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition.
“Regular consumption of specific dietary fibers, vegetables, fruits and spices, as well as the elimination of the components that causes inflammation and damage, can help patients to manage the effects of rheumatoid arthritis,” study author Bhawna Gupta said in a journal news release. Gupta is an assistant professor in the School of Biotechnology at KIIT University in Odisha, India.
“Patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis should switch from omnivorous diets, drinking alcohol and smoking to Mediterranean, vegan, elemental or elimination diets, as advised by their doctor or dietitian, Gupta said. An omnivorous diet includes foods from both plant and animal sources. Incorporating probiotics – foods like yogurt and dietary supplements that contain beneficial microorganisms – can also help, she said.
Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis includes anti-rheumatic drugs, which can be costly.
“Supporting disease management through food and diet does not pose any harmful side effects and is relatively cheap and easy,” Gupta said.
This report is interesting, but a little confusing. The Mediterranean diet is an omnivorous diet, including fish and occasional lean meats. It also includes wine, they drink quite a bit of wine in the Mediterranean region. The kids start about the age of seven.
The blueberries, green tea, dried plums and pomegranates are all good sources of anti-oxidants that limit or prevent damage to the body. The spices ginger and turmeric are both anti-inflammatory but turmeric reduces prostaglandins not typically found elevated in rheumatoid arthritis. Prostaglandins are frequently increased in musculoskeletal injuries, like osteoarthritis.
Ginger does reduce leukotrienes, inflammatory chemicals from the immune system that increase in autoimmune disease like rheumatoid arthritis. However, ginger is typically not very effective in treating true rheumatoid arthritis. In fact, when ginger tests well and helps reduce the inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis, I question the diagnosis (which I often do).
I disagree with the use of whole grains as many of the proteins (like the glutens) and carbohydrates are thought to be triggers for the autoimmune activity that causes rheumatoid arthritis.
Olive oil is an omega-6 fatty acid and it does have anti-inflammatory action. However, if any aspects of metabolic syndrome are present – hypertension, low thyroid, insulin resistance, high serum lipids or obesity, the olive oil can be converted to pro-inflammatory compounds and make the symptoms worse. Sesame seed oil can block this conversion from anti to pro-inflammatory and should be taken daily if metabolic syndrome is suspected.
Probiotics are also a concern. As I have frequently written, any probiotic will stimulate an immune response from the GALT (Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue). The right probiotic may be beneficial, but we just don’t know which one(s) are the right ones. The wrong one(s) can trigger an autoimmune cascade.
Finally, the anti-rheumatic drugs aren’t just costly, they are often very dangerous medications. Some of them are chemotherapy drugs used to fight cancer. The side effects include damage to the immune system. The counterintuitive logic is that damaging the immune system will reduce the autoimmune response.
The Bottom Line:
Diet and supplementation can be very effective in reducing the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. However, I highly suggest you seek the advice of a qualified nutritionist rather than randomly adding any of these foods to your diet.
Source: November 8, 2017 National Institutes of Health