Diets for Patients Suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that causes stiff and swollen joints. People who suffer with rheumatoid arthritis often experience significant discomfort throughout their body, and this disorder can even lead to additional health problems, such as a damaged immune system, bone erosion, poor vision, and a weakened heart.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, so the 1.3 million U.S. patients struggling with this disorder must look for ways to minimize the severity of their symptoms. One of the most effective ways to manage rheumatoid arthritis is to consume a diet that helps to reduce symptoms while improving your health.

Diet Basics

It is important to keep in mind that there is no single diet that is universally recommended for rheumatoid arthritis patients. Additionally, a proper diet will not cure your rheumatoid arthritis. Improving your diet will, however, help to reduce inflammation, minimize joint damage, and keep your immune system in good health.

Most diets for rheumatoid arthritis patients focus on a variety of natural products while avoiding processed foods. Since there is not a specific diet that you have to follow, you can rely on a wide range of foods to keep yourself healthy. You can, therefore, look forward to enjoying many delicious recipes when following a diet for rheumatoid arthritis.

Mediterranean Diet

One of the most effective diets for rheumatoid arthritis patients is the Mediterranean diet.

If you decide to follow the Mediterranean diet, you will focus on eating traditional foods that are found in countries adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea. Staples of a Mediterranean diet include olive oil, fish, vegetables, and poultry.

Many patients with rheumatoid arthritis enjoy the Mediterranean diet because it allows you to drink a moderate quantity of red wine. There is a significant amount of scientific research on the Mediterranean diet, and researchers have proven that it can help rheumatoid arthritis patients reduce their risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and high cholesterol.

Paleo Diet

The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown, but some researchers believe that it could be the body’s reaction to modern foods that were not available in the Paleolithic era. Some of the foods that you consume on a daily basis, such as milk, coffee, and potato chips, were not available until the advent of modern civilization, so your immune system might be attacking traces of these foods in a mistaken belief that these products are detrimental to your health.

If you want to follow the paleo diet, you will need to avoid:

  • Grains: Modern farming was not possible in the Paleolithic era, so you want to stay away from foods based in grain, such as pasta, bread, and oatmeal.
  • Dairy products: Foods based in milk are a key element of most diets, but you want to avoid all dairy products if you plan to follow the paleo diet.
  • Processed foods: As with most diets, you should avoid processed foods, such as cake mix, ketchup, or pasta sauce.
  • Salty and sugary foods: People did not have the luxury of putting salt or sugar on their food until the modern era, so the paleo diet asks you to avoid these food additives.

Foods to Avoid

Even if you do not plan to follow the paleo diet, you should still avoid modern foods that do not come from plants or animals. Foods that have little nutritional value, such as cookies, potato chips, and candy, should be avoided by rheumatoid arthritis patients to minimize inflammation. Most processed foods are also associated with inflammation, so you should stay away from most packaged, frozen, and canned foods.

You should try to make fresh foods the main staple of your diet while avoiding foods with an extended shelf life that are filled with preservatives. Minimizing the amount of artificial ingredients that you consume on a daily basis can lead to a significant reduction in symptoms for patients struggling with rheumatoid arthritis.

Nightshade Vegetables

Many people have a sensitivity to foods that grow from solanaceous flowers, such as tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes. Foods that come from solanaceous flowers are called nightshade vegetables because traditional societies associated them with the darkness of death.

Although nightshade vegetables are harmless for most people, their elevated risk of triggering allergic reactions means that rheumatoid arthritis patients should be especially cautious about consuming them. Many diets for rheumatoid arthritis patients say that nightshade vegetables should be completely avoided, and you should follow this advice because these vegetables have the potential to aggravate your rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.

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