Video Q & A:

Diet and RA


How can my diet affect rheumatoid arthritis?

Expert:   Kenya Beard , ACNP-BC, Hunter College »

Can rheumatoid arthritis patients eat whatever they want? Not exactly. Take a look at this video!

Transcript: There are no specific food rules when it comes to managing rheumatoid arthritis, but there’s one thing that rheumatologists know for sure—a balanced diet is KEY, if only because it will help you maintain a healthy weight and energy. Extra pounds place increased pressure and stress on weakened joints, exacerbating symptoms and pain. Eating nutritious foods and exercising to keep your weight down will help ensure your ability to get out and enjoy life. People with rheumatoid arthritis are often deficient in certain vitamins and minerals, such as folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, zinc and selenium. Add leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, whole grains, nuts, olive oil, and lean meats to your plate to increase your intake of these nutrients. Making an effort to include them may reduce painful symptoms, and at the very least, help your overall health. Also, some clinical trials indicate that omega-3 fatty acids may help inhibit the inflammation that causes joint pain. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish such as salmon, tuna and trout. You can also get omega-3s in walnuts, tofu, flaxseed oil and canola oil. But don’t take mega-doses of omega-3. It can, ironically, increase your risk for heart disease. So far, researchers HAVEN’T found concrete evidence that a specific type of food NEGATIVELY impacts rheumatoid arthritis. But many people HAVE reported that certain foods make their symptoms worse, and some PRELIMINARY studies support their claim. One study, conducted at the University of Oslo in Norway, found that—at least in test tubes—the proteins found in cow’s milk, cereal, hen’s eggs, codfish and pork sparked the antibodies that cause rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. To find out whether or not certain foods trigger inflammation in YOUR joints, try an elimination diet—AFTER you get your health care provider’s permission. Start a strict diet of FRUITS, vegetables, meat and FISH. Record how you feel on this diet, and then add back things like milk and wheat and see how they affect your symptoms. Food sensitivities are highly individual, and haven’t been proven by science yet. But trying out a vegan or vegetarian diet may be worth a try to see if they can reduce your symptoms. To eliminate potentially INFLAMMATORY foods from your diet, talk with your healthcare provider or nutritionist first. Eliminating meat or dairy from your plate is a BAD idea if you don’t include their NUTRIENTS from an alternate source. To learn more about rheumatoid arthritis triggers, watch other videos in this series. More »

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