Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a painful ailment which involves the immune system attacking healthy cells, often in the joints, resulting in painful swelling, many times in multiple joints at the same time.
If you don’t have firsthand experience with RA, you can just imagine how debilitating that could be or, at the very minimum, how much it could diminish quality of life.
Which is why it is hugely important to find as many safe and healthy tools to help alleviate it as possible.
Enter, once again, diet.
It may seem overly simplistic to continue to attribute remedies to diet, but that happens because of just how powerful it is.
You are what you eat, and everything your cells get to either function well or not well is consumed by you.
And obviously, diet is at the apex of your consumption, so it should come as no surprise that diet may have an impact on potentially alleviating symptoms of RA.
To that end, researchers from Iran performed a cross-sectional study on 184 RA patients from Iran in 2020. Measuring the subjects’ Dietary Inflammatory Index (DII) scores via a 168-item food frequency questionnaire, they sought to find out if there was any correlation between dietary inflammation and both inflammatory markers and disease activity.
Their results, published in Nutrition Journal in August 2022, found that those with the highest DII scores had significantly higher odds (4.5 times) of positive C-reactive protein (a major marker of inflammation) than those with the lowest DII scores.
Following is a chart illustrating the increase in odds of positive C-reactive protein amongst the four quartiles of DII scores (quartile 1 is the lowest DII score, or least dietary inflammation and quartile 4 is the highest DII score, or highest dietary inflammation):
Those in the highest quartile of DII scores also had the highest Disease Activity Scores.
In conclusion, the researchers stated the following:
“Our results indicated that reducing inflammation through diet might be one of the therapeutic strategies to control and reduce the disease activity in RA patients.”
If you are looking to incorporate anti-inflammatory foods into your diet, there are a number of anti-inflammatory foods available to consume. Most whole food sources tend to result in lower inflammation than processed foods. Still, there are a number of plant-based foods in particular that are anti-inflammatory. Some very popular options include the spice turmeric, berries, green tea, green vegetables, fatty fish, dark chocolate (your welcome), and many more.(1)
Some pro-inflammatory foods include highly processed foods, foods with added sugar, refined carbohydrates (which quickly metabolize into sugar once consumed), artificial sweeteners, and some vegetable and seed oils, particularly those which are high in omega 6 fatty acids such as soybean oil.(2)
Conversely, other oils that are high in omega 3 fatty acids, like flaxseed oil, may help lower inflammation. Olive oil may also be included on this list.(2)
Now, of course, further studies are always needed to replicate these findings and perhaps dig even deeper to find out more about how diets influence RA symptoms and disease activity, but these are very encouraging results regardless. Anything which puts power back into our own hands to deal with ailments in a safe way is always welcome.
With that said, take these results to your licensed health care practitioner to see what kind of diet is safest and most effective for you. This information is always presented for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice.
And, with that said, all the best to you on your pursuit of great!
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