Scientists propose a list of foods that can help manage the progression and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, based on a new comprehensive review of foods with proven long–term beneficial effects on inflammation, joint stiffness and pain, joint destruction and oxidation stress.
Shweta Khanna, Kumar Sagar Jaiswal, Bhawna Gupta. Managing Rheumatoid Arthritis with Dietary Interventions. Frontiers in Nutrition, 2017; 4 DOI: 10.3389/fnut.2017.00052
The study took place at the Disease Biology Lab, School of Biotechnology, KIIT University, India. Some of the recommended foods are blueberries, dried plums, pomegranates, whole grains, canary seed, ginger, turmeric, specific oils and green tea. They can help by lowering inflammatory cytokines (chemicals released by the immune system that can cause problems in rheumatoid arthritis patients). Incorporating probiotics into the diet can also help. "Regular consumption of specific dietary fibers, vegetables, fruits and spices, as well as the elimination of components that cause inflammation and damage, can help patients to manage the effects of rheumatoid arthritis," says Dr. Bhawna Gupta Vegan, 7-10 days fasting and mediterranean diets for the management of rheumatoid arthritis have long been recommended by doctors. Patients should switch their diet from drinking alcohol and smoking to one of these diets, as advised by their doctor.
Rheumatoid arthritis causes pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints, severely impacting quality of life. It is difficult to detect the early onset of the disease and if undetected or misdiagnosed has a rapid rate of progression in the first few years. The first line of treatment includes disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, but these can be expensive. Food and diet does not pose any harmful side effects and is relatively cheap and easy.
The review focused on specific dietary components and phytochemicals from foods that have a proven beneficial effect on rheumatoid arthritis. Pharmaceutical companies may use this information to formulate 'nutraceuticals'. Nutraceuticals have an advantage over chemically-tailored medicines as they are not associated with any side effects, originate from natural sources and are cheaper.
Research was reviewed from several laboratory experiments under different conditions. Dietary components vary according to geography and weather conditions, so patients should be aware of their nutritional requirements, allergies and any other food-related disease history. It is suggested that patients consult doctors and nutritionists before following any diet program or food compounds discussed in the study.
"Supporting disease management through food and diet does not pose any harmful side effects and is relatively cheap and easy," Dr. Gupta explains. "Doctors, physicians and dieticians can use our study to summarize current proven knowledge on the links between certain foods and rheumatoid arthritis. Knowing the nutritional and medicinal requirements of their patients they can then tailor this information for the betterment of their health."
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