Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment Diet – Top 10 Foods to Have
BAJAJ FINSERV HEALTH EXPERTS
April 09, 2021
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder in which the body mistakenly attacks its own healthy cells, specifically those located in the joints. The most common symptoms include swelling, stiffness and pain, all of which are the result of severe inflammation. While there are several medical treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, ranging from anti-inflammatory drugs to biological response modifiers, there is no known cure. Studies suggest that in the long term, a rheumatoid arthritis treatment diet can offer relief that is both significant and sustainable.
When identifying food for rheumatoid arthritis treatment, it is important to consider their anti-inflammatory properties. Foods rich in antioxidants, like fruits, and omega-3 fatty acids, like fish and certain types of nuts, naturally soothe inflammation in the body. Other foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals boost your immunity and reduce free radical damage too. Finally, foods high in dietary fibre not only contain their own anti-inflammation agents, but also facilitate the absorption of other nutrients by enhancing the digestive process.
Make sure to speak with your physician as well as a nutritionist when you devise a rheumatoid arthritis treatment diet, so that you can ensure it is right for you based on your personal dietary needs. A period of restricted eating, in which you cut out certain food groups entirely, may be recommended to you so as to identify your specific triggers. You may also find that many of the required foods already exist in your diet, and simply need to be increased or prepared differently.
To help you get started, here is a list of some of the foods and food groups you should include in your rheumatoid arthritis diet cure.
Beans are powerhouses of nutrients and should be a staple in any rheumatoid arthritis treatment diet. Since they’re rich in fibre, they are a natural inhibitor for C-reactive protein (CRP) which causes inflammation. High dietary fibre also improves the digestive process and enhances the absorption of immunity-boosting nutrients. Additionally, beans are also high in protein, which can strengthen joint muscles so they’re more resilient to autoimmune damage. And finally, beans contain high levels of zinc, iron, folic acid, magnesium and potassium, which make them natural immunity-boosters.
Like beans, whole grains are high in dietary fibre and therefore reduce the amount of C-reactive protein in the body. Whole wheat also contains selenium, a natural antioxidant, and can therefore be a healthier alternative to processed wheat and grains. A significant advantage to high-fibre foods is that they improve the digestive process, eliminate cravings and enhance metabolism. Eating whole grains that are high in fibre help you manage your weight, so you’re not putting excess pressure on your joints. This is why they figure prominently on any list of foods for rheumatoid arthritis treatment.
Antioxidants fight free radicals in the bloodstream and help curb inflammation too. Cherries, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries tend to be especially high in antioxidants and can help ease arthritic inflammation. Oranges, mangoes and peaches are rich in vitamins that can help strengthen your immune system. Strawberries are also known to reduce CRP in your body. Berries and grapes are high in flavonoids, another compound that reduces inflammation, and are therefore a natural treatment for rheumatoid arthritis pain and swelling.
Olive oil can be a healthy alternative to many cooking oils, namely because of its many nutrient properties. It curbs the production of cytokines, and can limit the damage caused during an autoimmune attack which makes it an important part of rheumatoid arthritis diet cure. It contains oleic acid, which is a CRP inhibitor, and also contains an antioxidant called oleocanthal which works as an anti-inflammatory agent. Finally, it has been associated with weight management, thereby facilitating improved mobility, reduced joint pressure, and higher immunity.
Spices like turmeric and ginger are rich in curcumin, a natural anti-inflammatory agent. They also reduce cytokines, which are the substances produced by immune cells that attacks joint muscles, and thereby curb the process of autoimmune inflammation. Garlic is also known to soothe inflammation, and also has properties that naturally enhance the functioning of immune cells. Together, these spices form an essential foundation for the natural treatment for rheumatoid arthritis pain and swelling.
Green tea is rich in polyphenols, which are antioxidants that limit cartilage destruction in the bones and joints. It contains a compound known as epigallocatechin-3, which inhibits the production of the cytokines responsible for joint damage. Contrary to what many believe, it is important to drink green tea without any added sugar, as sugar is known to trigger the release of cytokines and thereby exacerbate inflammation. In addition, it is better to choose to brew this tea using loose leaf green tea rather than tea bags. For one, the quality of tea in the bags may be substandard and moreover, the quality of the bag itself may affect the taste and nutrition.
Omega-3 fatty acids are a natural lubricant for distressed joints, and also contain two compounds that help soothe joint pain, which makes them a must-have in a rheumatoid arthritis treatment diet. As a bonus, they also cut down on triglycerides and LDL cholesterol—two known contributors to heart disease. Fatty fish such as herring, mackerel, salmon and tuna are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. As an alternative, you may want to consider taking a fish oil supplement if you’re a vegetarian, do not like the taste of fatty fish or do not get enough fatty fish in your diet.
For diets that do not contain meat or fish, nuts can be a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Walnuts, almonds and flax seeds are especially beneficial in this regard. Nuts also happen to be high in fibre, making them natural CRP-inhibitors. Peanuts, pecans and chestnuts are also high in antioxidants and can soothe inflammation.
Leafy vegetables, namely broccoli, spinach, Brussel sprouts, kale, chard, and bok choy, are rich with vitamins and minerals that are natural immunity-boosters. They also happen to be full of calcium, which improves bone density and resilience to autoimmune damage. Like whole grains and legumes, green vegetables are an excellent source of dietary fibre, and thereby improve metabolism, nutrient absorption and immunity. All in all, having seasonal and fresh green vegetables is a fundamental part of the rheumatoid arthritis diet cure. If possible, try consuming steamed green vegetable with minimal cooking so you can get maximum nutritional benefits.
A staple in most Indian diets, ashwagandha or Indian ginseng, has proven analgesic properties. It has been used in Ayurvedic pain remedies for centuries, and now has the backing of modern scientific studies. Ashwagandha is also said to be a natural remedy for stress and anxiety, and can soothe the nervous system. This can indirectly relieve any added strain on your metabolic or immune system. In addition, it is also believed to have anti-inflammatory properties and effective in treating rheumatoid arthritis. However, it is best to check with your doctor before adding it to your rheumatoid arthritis diet cure as it may not be right for everyone who has an autoimmune disorder.
While incorporating fresh, nutritious food into your diet can help relieve arthritic pain, it is equally important to limit your intake of trigger foods. Sugar, alcohol, fried foods, corn oil, red meat and dairy have all been known to aggravate inflammation, and should be limited on a rheumatoid arthritis treatment diet. It is also important to note that while many of the recommended foods have high nutrient value with demonstrated benefits, they can still be triggers or allergens for some people. Make sure you work closely with your physician and dietician when making significant changes to your diet, so that you’re getting all the nutrients you require while managing your symptoms appropriately.
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