Benefits of a healthy diet for rheumatoid arthritis, Doctors and patient organizations agree: a needs-based diet can significantly alleviate the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. It is not uncommon for individually tailored diets to reduce the drug dosage by up to half. In addition, an adapted diet helps to manage common complications such as osteoporosis better. In addition, a diet low in fat and meat reduces the risk of new flare-ups of rheumatoid arthritis.
Diet guidelines for rheumatoid arthritis
Experts agree that rheumatoid arthritis diets should be based primarily on plant-based foods. Milk and dairy products as well as fatty sea fish are considered useful supplements. In this respect, an ovo-vegetarian diet is the best choice for living better with rheumatoid arthritis. If you don’t want to do without meat, you should at least seriously reconsider the consumption of red meat.
In principle, you should discuss your diet in rheumatoid arthritis with your doctor. The information in this article cannot and is not intended to replace medical advice.
Fight the causes of rheumatoid arthritis with diet
To understand how diet can fight the causes of rheumatoid arthritis, a brief explanation is needed. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. These are diseases of the immune system. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system causes an ongoing inflammatory response. It is not known why the immune system attacks and ultimately destroy joints in rheumatoid arthritis.
Inflammatory messenger substances from food
However, medicine knows much more about how the joints are attacked. Inflammation mediators play a major role. The inflammation-mediating messenger substances include cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and interleukins. Another group of inflammatory messengers is known as eicosanoids. These include prostaglandins and leukotrienes. A precursor to eicosanoids is arachidonic acid. It belongs to the fatty acids.
Decrease your dietary arachidonic acid intake
Arachidonic acid is a polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid and is found in many animal foods. In addition, arachidonic acid is formed in the body from another omega-6 fatty acid, linoleic acid. Linoleic acid is found in some vegetable oils and animal fats and also enters the body with food.
So you can reduce the concentration of inflammatory messengers by reducing your dietary intake of arachidonic acid and linoleic acid. This reduces inflammatory reactions and improves symptoms such as the progression of rheumatoid arthritis.
Omega-3 fatty acids against inflammatory messengers
But that’s not all. The most important antagonist of arachidonic acid is eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), an omega-3 fatty acid. The targeted absorption of eicosapentaenoic acid helps to displace arachidonic acid from the body.
So, diet can help combat the causes of rheumatoid arthritis by consuming little arachidonic acid and high levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
Foods high in arachidonic acid (avoid)
Foods with a particularly high proportion of arachidonic acid are, according to the German Nutrition Advice and Information Network, for example:
- Lard: 1,700 mg / 100 g
- Butter croissants: 1,070 mg / 100 g
- Soup chicken: 730 mg / 100 g
- Pork liver: 520 mg / 100 g
- Veal chop: 320 mg / 100 g
- Roast chicken: 230 mg / 100 g
- Egg yolk: 200 mg / 100 g
- Pork 120 mg / 100 g
Foods low in arachidonic acid (prefer)
Arachidonic acid is only found in foods of animal origin. Therefore, if you have rheumatoid arthritis, you should give preference to all plant-based foods. But there are also some foods of animal origin that are part of a healthy diet for rheumatoid arthritis for various reasons. These are for example:
- Whey: 0 mg / 100 g
- Quark (lean): 0 mg / 100 g
- Quark (20% fat): 5 mg / 100 g
- Vegetable oils (wheat germ, peanut oil): 0 mg / 100 g
- Cow’s milk (1.5% fat content): 2 mg / 100 g
- Cow’s milk (3.5% fat content): 4 mg / 100 g
Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids (preferred)
Omega-3 fatty acids help to alleviate inflammation and also have other protective properties. The omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are particularly biologically effective. These omega-3 fatty acids, which are useful for the human metabolism, are mainly found in high-fat cold-water fish such as :
- Sardines: 2,084 mg / 100 g
- Baltic herring: 1,910 mg / 100 g
- Salmon: 1,748 mg / 100 g
- Mackerel: 1,327 mg / 100 g
- Trout: 1,024 mg / 100 g
- Tuna: 816 mg / 100 g.
Fish oil capsules as an alternative
For the intake of omega-3 fatty acids, sea fish should be on the menu at least twice a week. If you don’t like that, you can consume 30 mg fish oil fatty acids per day per capsule. Similar positive effects can be found for alpha-linolenic acid (not to be confused with linoleic acid), which occurs in linseed, rapeseed, wheat germ, and walnut oil. Their positive effect is based on the fact that the body can produce eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) from alpha-linolenic acid, the antagonist of the pro-inflammatory arachidonic acid (see above).
Healthy ingredients from plants
People with rheumatoid arthritis benefit from a plant-based diet not only from the reduced intake of inflammatory messenger substances. According to the German Rheuma League, other plant ingredients also have anti-inflammatory effects. This applies, for example, to:
- Resveratrol found in red grapes, raspberries, and peanuts
- Genistein (soy)
- Catechins (black and green tea)
- Bioflavonoids such as quercetin (apple, onion)
- Myristicin (nutmeg, parsley)
- Sulforaphane (broccoli)
- Isothiocyanates (mustard, cabbage, radish, and rocket)
- Polyphenols (coffee)
Drink enough water
Many people underestimate the importance of water for their metabolism and drink too little – or the wrong thing. According to the German Rheumatism League, people with rheumatoid arthritis should drink more than healthy people. The Rheumaliga recommends at least 30 milliliters per kilogram of body weight per day for women. A woman weighing 50 kg, therefore, needs 1.5 liters, and a man weighing 85 kg 2.5 liters per day.
Water, unsweetened fruit teas, and fruit juice spritzers (two parts water / one part fruit juice) are particularly suitable. Coffee can be included in fluid intake. That coffee is supposed to remove fluids from the body is just a persistent fairy tale.
Alcohol in moderation
Alcohol is a cell poison and an addictive substance – and should therefore always be viewed critically from a medical point of view. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, however, there are credible studies that show a positive influence. Accordingly, moderate alcohol consumption can lower the risk of rheumatoid arthritis. In an English study (Sheffield cohort), the AR risk in non-drinkers was more than four times higher than in study participants who reported drinking alcohol for more than 10 days a month. Studies on the course of the disease have also produced similar effects. One possible explanation: alcohol probably helps to reduce the concentration of individual inflammatory messengers.