Have you ever experienced stiffness in your joints, maybe after a long hectic day? Imagine experiencing this every morning as soon as you wake up. This is the plight of those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis!
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, an inflammatory disorder that particularly affects the joints causing inflammation, stiffness, and deformity. It can cause debilitating pain, but rheumatoid arthritis is much more than just the pain. People suffering from rheumatoid arthritis even find it difficult to do the daily chores, thereby making them go into isolation, which may be as difficult to manage as the physical symptoms.
Here are a few Healthy Diet Tips to combat Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Have lots of anti-inflammatory foods: This is the best diet for rheumatoid arthritis
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Have more of whole grains, beans, and lentils
- Opt for gluten-free foods: Gluten in the grains can lead to the inflammation.
- Include fish since it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids lower the inflammation
- Mediterranean diet: It includes fruits, vegetables, and a lot of whole grains, fish, and olive oil
- Include iron in the diet as most of the people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis may suffer from anemia.
- Include a diet rich in folic acid: The treatment for rheumatoid arthritis may generally deplete the folic acid content in RA patients.
- Limit the intake of meat: Red meat can cause inflammation, so it is best to avoid it.
- Avoid processed foods and preservatives
- Refined sugar should be used moderately
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Keeping these tips in mind, let us find out what foods people with rheumatoid arthritis can consume and the foods would be beneficial to them. Here’s the list.
These are full of fiber and also contain proteins. Fiber can help reduce the levels of CRP that is C-reactive protein which is a sign of inflammation. Beans are also a good source of folic acid and iron and hence can help fight rheumatoid arthritis effectively.
- Cherries & Berries
Cherries and berries have chemicals called anthocyanins and flavonoids which are powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants help in minimizing the inflammation.
Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, etc., are high in omega-3 fatty acids which have anti-inflammatory properties. Hence, it can reduce inflammation and stiffness. Fish also have good amounts of Vitamin D, which can help keep the bones healthy.
Garlic is known to have anti-inflammatory properties; hence it helps reduce the swelling and stiffness.
Ginger is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Hence, it can be included in soup or tea to reduce inflammation and pain.
Curcumin in turmeric helps reduce the inflammation, hence it should be used in the regular preparation of the food.
Walnuts are abundant in omega-3 fatty acids and, therefore, help in reducing the inflammation.
- Olive oil
Olive oil is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and can have a favorable effect on the symptoms of arthritis. This is why the Mediterranean diet is considered healthy for RA patients. People in this region include olive oil in all their food preparations.
- Soya beans
These are low in fat and high in protein and fiber. Hence, they help in muscle protection as RA patients would also suffer from the wasting of muscles.
- Green tea
Green tea is packed with antioxidants, which help in fighting the inflammation. Include 2 cups of green tea per day in your diet. Avoid sugar with green tea.
- Citrus fruits
Citrus fruits, such as oranges and limes, are rich in Vitamin C which helps reduce the inflammation.
As already mentioned above, include lots of fruits and vegetables in your diet. Try the following tips of including potions of fruits and vegetables:
- Include at least 2 small bowls of fruits per day.
- Include 3 or more bowls of vegetables per day in your diet.
Foods that should be avoided:
- Foods containing processed sugars: Processed sugars in desserts, sodas, and chocolates release cytokines that are responsible for the inflammatory process, hence these should be avoided.
- White or refined flour products: White or refined flour products, such as bread, toast, and pasta, are refined carbs and have a high glycemic index. These increase the production of advanced glycation end products which stimulate the inflammation.
- Saturated fats: These are generally present in pizza, pasta, cheese, full dairy products, and meat. They trigger the inflammation. Hence, they should be avoided.
- Oils containing omega-6 fatty acid: Omega-6 fatty acid can also trigger the production of co-inflammatory products, hence, it should be avoided. It is present in all vegetable oils, such as sunflower, corn oil, and peanut oil. The consumption of food containing a lot of oil should be restricted.
- Foods containing harmful preservatives: Certain preservatives, such as msg or monosodium glutamate, commonly known as Ajinomoto, should be avoided as they can trigger chronic inflammation. This is found in ready to eat foods, such as chips, soups, noodles, etc.
Other health issues that a RA patient may suffer from and the diet-related to it:
- Weight loss is another common feature of people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Since RA is an autoimmune condition, it leads to inflammatory processes, thereby increasing the metabolic rate which may lead to weight loss in the patients. This kind of weight loss may leave a person undernourished or malnourished. Hence, people suffering from RA may also have nutritional deficiencies, such as deficiencies of Vitamin B12, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Calcium, Folic acid, Selenium, and Magnesium. These would readily be available in most fruits and vegetables. There would also be wasting of muscles in those suffering from RA. Hence, including proteins in the diet would help to cope with the loss of muscle mass.
- RA patients may also develop Osteoporosis due to a lack of Vitamin D and calcium. A diet rich in calcium, such as paneer, yogurt, soya, and nachni, would help in a big way.
Due to all these facts, people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis should also take necessary supplements along with a regular healthy diet, such as vitamin B12, calcium, folic acid, and Vitamin D supplements.
Balance the food that you eat with regular moderate physical exercises. Include moderate stretching exercises. Also, include exercises with the stress ball, as they help relieve stress as well as helps in preventing the stiffness of finger joints.
Good food and moderate exercise are the most effective ways to combat rheumatoid arthritis. So, follow an appropriate diet, practice moderate exercise regularly, and enjoy a healthy and happy life.