NUTRITION-IN-RHEUMATOID-ARTHRITIS

NUTRITION IN RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS

If you suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis, you know how painful it can be. Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease of joints due to unknown causes and runs for a long time. It can strike anyone at any age. Its onset includes symptoms like vague joint pains, muscle pains, fatigue, weakness, and joint stiffness. Over time, it leads to joint swelling especially that of fingers, wrist, elbows, ankle, and knees.

It affects approximately 10 people in 1000. It is associated with a greater risk of heart disease and a reduced life expectancy of 3-10 years.

One of the most common questions people with arthritis ask is “Can arthritis be cured through diet’? Unfortunately, there is no specific diet to cure arthritis but certain food behaviours may help slow down joint inflammation and keep joint pain in check.

RISK FACTORS:

RA is an auto-immune disease, (a condition in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your body.) But researches have shown that diet low in antioxidants and smoking has been associated with the development of RA over time. Patients with RA have been found taking a diet low in energy, macronutrients (Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats) but high in saturated fat.

FOODS THAT YOU MUST KEEP IN YOUR DIET TO COMBAT RA

WHOLE GRAINS: These are rich in fiber that helps you in keeping your weight in check and also have anti-inflammatory properties. These include whole wheat, barley, rye, brown rice, corn, quinoa, millets. People with gluten sensitivity may need to avoid wheat, barley, and rye.

FOODS TO AVOID TO REDUCE RA SYMPTOMS:

  1. PROCESSED FOODS:  Processed foods are high in unhealthy fats that trigger inflammation. They are also high in sodium that may shoot your blood pressure. Processed foods include packaged snacks, chips, and soups. Go for fresh preparations always.
  2. EXCESS SALT: Salt is high in sodium and drugs (corticosteroids) cause sodium retention in the body that may spike blood pressure.
  3. ALCOHOL: If you already have arthritis, drugs that are prescribed mix well with alcohol. It may lead to gastric bleeding, liver damage. If it is accompanied with have gout, try avoiding it completely.

NUTRITIONIST’S ADVICE

  1. Patients with RA should focus on maintaining healthy body weight by taking a balanced diet and try to reduce if overweight or gain if underweight.
  2. Antioxidants are a boon to RA individuals due to their anti-inflammatory effects and slowing down aging. Some great sources of antioxidants are all fruits and vegetables. There should be at least 5 servings a day. This will also help in protecting from heart diseases.
  3. Omega 3 fatty acids have been found in slowing down joint symptoms of RA. Some of the best sources include fish and other seafood (especially cold-water fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines), Nuts and seeds (such as flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts), Plant oils (such as flaxseed oil, soybean oil, and canola oil).
  4. Patients with RA should consume a balanced amount of Calcium and Vitamin D. This is because; certain RA drugs (corticosteroids) may induce bone diseases.
  5. Folic acid supplementation may be beneficial if patients are treated with drugs like methotrexate which is a folate antagonist.

THE BOTTOM LINE

There is no specific and single arthritis diet. What works for you may not work for others. Keeping a record with trial and error method with different types of food will work the best for you.

In general, having a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy body weight will help you the best. Always take the help of a qualified nutritionist to keep your RA symptoms in check and religiously follow the instructions and the medication prescribed.

Divya

M. Sc. Gold Medalist

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