Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a condition where your immune system mistakenly targets your own body. This then causes the lining of your joints to become inflamed.
Symptoms can include painful, swollen, stiff, warm, and tender joints.
Several studies have shown a connection between certain foods and the inflammation that characterizes this autoimmune condition.
The best approach to food for people with RA is a well-balanced diet which, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, should be centered on plant-based foods.
Approximately two-thirds of your diet should come from fruits, vegetables and whole grains. The other third should include low-fat dairy products and lean sources of protein.
Your diet should include cold water fish such as herring, mackerel, trout, salmon and tuna. Although there may be no magic elixir, the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil are the most promising anti-inflammatory in food, says Ruth Frechman, registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.
Increasing your intake of fiber from a variety of sources such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains may also help reduce inflammation. Studies show that adding fiber to the diet results in lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) in the blood; CRP is an indicator of inflammation.
Extra-virgin olive oil may also help reduce inflammation, in the same way that a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as ibuprofen or aspirin can – it contains a compound called oleocanthal that blocks the enzymes that cause inflammation.
While some foods may help to ease inflammation, compounds in others have been found to increase it. Eating hamburgers, chicken or other meats that have been grilled or fried at high temperature can raise the amount of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) in the blood. Although no direct link between AGEs and arthritis has been identified, high levels of AGEs have been detected in people with inflammation.
Another culprit that may boost inflammation is omega-6 fatty acids, which are found in corn, sunflower, safflower and soybean oils, and many snack and fried foods. Consuming more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3s raises your risk of joint inflammation and obesity. Keep fresh fruits and veggies on hand to help you avoid processed snacks that often contain omega-6 fatty acids.
In conclusion, individuals who suffer from RA must try to maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet. One way to achieve this is to consider adopting a Mediterranean diet, which includes plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
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