Diet and Rheumatoid Arthritis: What Should You Eat and What Should You Avoid?
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder that has gained prevalence in the U.S.
This troublesome condition primarily causes swelling and pain. It happens when the immune system doesn’t work properly and attacks the lining of the joints. The disease commonly affects the hands, knees, or ankles, but it sometimes causes problems in other parts of the body as well, such as the eyes, heart and circulatory system, and/or the lungs. While there is no specific diet that treats RA, there are certain nutrient-dense foods that decrease inflammation in the body and may help you feel better overall.
In this article, we have identified some foods to fill up on and foods to avoid if you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis.
Do Eat These Foods
Loaded with fiber, beans can reduce levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) in the bloodstream, which is a sign of inflammation. Beans also provide the protein needed to keep the muscles that surround joints strong. Red, kidney, and pinto beans are also good sources of magnesium, iron, zinc, and potassium, all of which can give the heart and immune system a boost.
Leafy green vegetables
Fill your plate with leafy veggies like spinach, Brussels sprouts, kale, Swiss chard, and broccoli. They are full of important vitamins like A, C, and K, which protect the body from free radical damage. They’re also great sources of calcium, which keeps bones strong.
Chemicals called anthocyanins give cherries their vivid red color. These chemicals are also powerful antioxidants that reduce inflammation. In addition to cherries, you can find these beneficial chemicals in other purple and red fruits like raspberries and blueberries.
Many types of fish are rich in omega-3s, a specific type of fatty acid that may ease RA pain and morning stiffness. They also lower inflammation and cut down on bad LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Salmon, sardines, mackerel, tuna, and anchovies are great sources of omega-3s. Salmon packs the most, with as much as 2 grams per 3-ounce serving. Bake or grill fish instead of frying it to retain those powerful nutritional properties. Aim for two or more servings of fish per week.
This tasty drink is laden with polyphenols, which are antioxidants that reduce inflammation and slow cartilage destruction. It also has epigallocatechin-3 (EGCG), which hinders the production of molecules that lead to RA joint damage.
Consuming whole grains instead of processed ones (such as brown rice instead of white) may lower CRP levels, the marker for inflammation. Plus, the dense fiber in whole grains is very filling. It can help you manage your weight so that extra pressure is not put on your joints.
Steer Clear of These Foods
Beef represents a prime source of saturated fats, which can cause inflammation in fat tissue. Other common sources include full-fat dairy products, pasta dishes, and grain-based desserts.
This commonly-used oil is brimming with unhealthy omega-6 fatty acids. These culprits can lead to weight gain and joint inflammation. Sunflower, safflower, soy, and vegetable oils are also sources of omega-6 fatty acids.
Fried and processed foods
They may taste good but they are major sources of trans fats, which are created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil to extend its shelf life. They can trigger inflammation throughout the body and they quickly raise bad cholesterol.
Not only does too much sodium bad raise your blood pressure, but if you have RA and take steroids, your body is likely to accumulate it more easily. Kick the salt habit and aim to consume less than 1,500 milligrams a day.
Many people with rheumatoid aortitis have proteins in their body called ‘anti-citrullinated protein antibodies’ (ACPA), which cause inflammation and trigger the disease. Experts think sugar tells the body to produce more ACPA, which can make RA symptoms worse. In addition to checking food labels for sugar, also look for ingredients that end in ‘ose’, such as dextrose, fructose, and sucrose.
Simply put, alcohol doesn’t mix well with RA meds. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen can cause stomach bleeding and ulcers, and those odds increase with the addition of alcohol.
Keep rheumatoid arthritis symptoms in check with common-sense eating.
Experts recommend eating three balanced meals per day plus a couple of healthy snacks, such as fruit or nuts. Fill up on whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. They should make up two-thirds of your plate. Consume low-fat dairy and lean proteins, and limit processed and fried foods.
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