Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can cause a great deal of pain, enough to disrupt your daily activities. Unlike osteoarthritis, which is the more common type between the two, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease and it can begin at any time in life. It can strike as early as in your 20’s or 30’s. It spreads more rapidly compared to osteoarthritis’ progression which is mainly caused by wear and tear of the joints over the years. While there is no definite way to prevent it, you can reduce the chances of developing severe joint damage after you get diagnosed with RA.
Aside from seeing a doctor as soon as you feel the symptoms, changing your eating habits may also help decrease the level of pain and inflammation. Here are some dietary tips that are worth trying if you are diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis:
- Eat more healthy fat. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fats have powerful anti-inflammatory properties which can reduce C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6, two inflammatory proteins in the body. Aside from being heart-friendly, these healthy fats can halt general inflammation and may help in reducing joint pain and stiffness. RA increases the likelihood of developing a heart disease, take every opportunity to protect it. Get a healthy dose of these omega-3 fatty acids in fish such as sardines, tuna, salmon and anchovies.
- Try the Mediterranean route. The Mediterranean diet is mostly made up of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fish and healthy fats. It also makes use of olive oil, a healthy fat which can lower the levels of the chemicals which causes inflammation. Fruits and vegetables, especially those with deep bright colors, have high antioxidant and fiber levels that help curb inflammation.
- Lower your AGE. Advanced Glycation End product or AGE is a toxin produced when food is heated, fried, grilled or pasteurized. Foods cooked at high temperatures may exacerbate inflammation. This doesn’t mean you have to give up barbecue forever, just limit your intake. Other than avoiding cancer, cutting down on processed food may help with the inflammation. Processed foods are exposed to a high cooking temperature to prolong shelf life so they may have high AGE levels.
- Reduce your salt intake. According to a study made by the Yale School of Medicine, people who ate in fast food restaurants have higher levels of inflammatory cells than others. These cells are normally used by our immune system to protect the body from all kinds of infections. But in case of autoimmune diseases, they attack the healthy tissues as in the case of RA. Canned, microwaveable, processed and fast foods contain excess salt and other preservatives to promote longer shelf lives so avoiding them will help you manage your arthritis.
- Cut back on sugar. A high-sugar diet can result to an increase in your AGEs, which as discussed above, can cause inflammation. So if you still want to write or run pain-free, limit yourself from eating candies, desserts and sodas.
While there is no definite cure for it, it won’t hurt to try and tweak your diet for a healthier lifestyle. Also keep in mind that consulting your doctor to discuss your concern is best.