Rheumatoid Arthritis Diet

RA Diet

Among the lifestyle changes recommended to relieve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, some suggest a rheumatoid arthritis diet, but is there any proof it can make a real difference?

Ongoing Research

Research studying the connection between nutrition and arthritis has been ongoing since the 1930's. As with many chronic health conditions, reports of supplements and specific diets promise to alleviate symptoms. But do they work? A good number of experts hypothesize that these beneficial claims related to nutritional remedies are associated with a placebo affect. This means the patient perceives an improvement in symptoms as well as a sense of well being even if there is no evidence of physical improvement.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Diet

With lack of data from controlled studies regarding the benefits of dietary changes, those who suffer from this chronic condition are encouraged to eat a healthy, balanced diet that promotes a healthy weight. The following diet is recommended in the 4th edition of Nutrition and Your Heath: Dietary Guidelines for Americans:

  • Eat a variety of foods
  • Balance food eaten with physical activity
  • Eat plenty of grain products, vegetables, and fruits
  • Eat a diet low in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol
  • Choose a diet moderate in sugars
  • Restrict intake of alcoholic beverages

Mediterranean Diet

With the above guidelines in mind, it's interesting to note that one study found that 10 out of 17 people benefited from any diet their doctors recommended. However, a 2003 study details the fact that people with rheumatoid arthritis who followed the Mediterranean Diet enjoyed the following improvements:

  • reduced inflammatory activity
  • improved physical function
  • improved vitality

These benefits are attributed by some to the heart-healthy fiber, nutrients, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants found in the Mediterranean Diet which has a relatively high fat intake from mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils. In fact, some data implies that a high intake of olive oil and cooked vegetables diminishes the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.


Another possibility is that high amounts of protein may offer a measure of protection, because protein is lost during the inflammatory process. Protein in the Mediterranean Diet is primarily supplied through eating oily fish which is believed to have beneficial anti-inflammatory effects. Fish and soy are suggested as the primary sources of protein, and some evidence also indicates that fish oil supplements are potentially helpful.


The Mediterranean Diet's carbohydrate choices emphasize:

  • fresh fruits
  • vegetables
  • nuts
  • legumes
  • beans
  • whole grains

Coffee and Tea

Most people think of coffee and tea as interchangeable beverages, but a 2002 study shows a relationship between rheumatoid arthritis and decaffeinated coffee. However, this link is not found with regular coffee, and the results for tea actually are associated with a lower risk. So choose your morning brew to better your health.

Fad Diets

You'll find a host of fad diets for rheumatoid arthritis. These diets include ideas like avoiding foods from the nightshade family like tomatoes, potatoes, green peppers, and eggplant. Another known as the Dong Diet eradicates all additives, preservatives, fruits, red meat, herbs, alcohol, and dairy. It's worth pointing out though, that there are people who swear they have found relief through these diets.

Vegetarian Diet

A strict vegetarian diet brought about improvement in rheumatoid arthritis symptoms according to a clinical trial published in Rheumatology (2001). In another study, 40 percent of patients on a vegetarian diet who avoided foods containing gluten found in wheat, barley, and rye reported improvement.

Flare Ups and Food

With so much conflicting information out there, if you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis you may wonder if specific foods can be responsible for flare ups. Rheumatoid arthritis diets may affect various people differently. The bottom line is that there is no absolute evidence to show that diet will have a specific effect that offers [Arthritis Pain Relief Diets|arthritis joint pain relief]] or reduce inflammation. Research is ongoing in order to determine whether or not dietary changes can have a positive influence in treating rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Diet