How Can a Mediterranean Diet Help Me if I Have Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by inflammation and pain in one's joints. You may be struggling to figure out how to better manage your symptoms, especially if your symptoms constantly flare up. One way to better manage your symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis is by eating a healthier diet, like the Mediterranean diet. Click through this slideshow to learn the different food groups and foods that you should eat if you have rheumatoid arthritis.
What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is known to be a painful medical condition that is known to be often characterized by joints which are painful as well as swollen. This medical condition can strike any individual at any age. Rheumatoid arthritis is very different from osteoarthritis, which is basically a natural process that leads to the wearing down of the joints as the individual ages. Rheumatoid arthritis mostly occurs when an individual’s immune system attacks its own joints. The exact underlying cause as to why does this occurs is still not clearly understood, but ultimately, the result of this medical condition is very painful, leading to stiffening as well as inflammation of the joints.
Role of Diet for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Currently, there is no cure yet for rheumatoid arthritis, but the traditional method of treatment would include consuming certain medications, which are prescribed by the doctor. These medications are also known to have a few possible negative side effects. The medications that the doctor may normally prescribe include certain painkillers, medications to cause a suppression of the immune system, or anti-inflammatory medicines. Those individuals who suffer from this disease are observed to be turning now to other alternative methods of treatment, which can also include a certain change in the diet of the individual. Be sure to consume those food items which are said to reduce inflammation in the entire body as well as lead to a reduction in pain and the swelling of the joints, including:
- Loading up on a lot of omega-3 fatty acids: A few of the anti-inflammatory food items are said to be rich in omega-3 fatty acids, hence, one should consider adding these foods to their diet, which mostly includes fish. You can go in for salmon, herring, tuna, or mackerel. One can also make use of fish supplements so as to make up for the required omega-3 in the body. For those individuals who do not like many fish items, they can also go in for consuming walnuts as well as almonds. Grind some flax seeds and add them to your cereal, salad, or baked items. Chia seeds are also known to be a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Antioxidants: These are basically compounds which are known to destroy the damage-causing free radicals in the body. Antioxidants are also said to reduce inflammation in the body. One medical study has shown good results where antioxidant-rich food items that were added to the diet helped to reduce pain as well as inflammation in the joints, which are mostly affected due to rheumatoid arthritis. A few of the important dietary antioxidants include selenium, vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin C. Hence, an individual can look to include more of these minerals, which can be found in food items such as green tea, fresh veggies, fruits, and nuts.
- Fiber intake: Foods that are rich in fiber are known to reduce the amount of C-reactive protein present in the blood. This marker is basically the level of inflammation present in the body. An individual can add more fiber to their diet by consuming food items such as whole grains, nuts, beans, and, again, fresh veggies and fruits.
- Flavonoids: Flavonoids are known to be essentially compounds that are made up of plants. They are said to make their way into our bodies when we eat fruits or veggies. Flavonoids are known to be very helpful in reducing inflammation in the body as well as reducing the pain and swelling in the joints caused due to rheumatoid arthritis. Those food items which are rich in flavonoids include broccoli, green tea, berries, grapes, and soy. Chocolate is also known to be rich in flavonoids, but it is better to go in for dark chocolate since it is low in sugar and has a high percentage of cacao.
What we place on the plate for our consumption becomes of the utmost importance in managing this disease. Foods all by themselves are not enough to cure any disease, but it surely can help in controlling the inflammation as well as managing any other symptoms of this disease. The Mediterranean diet is known to be helpful in preventing many heart-related disorders as well as certain forms of cancer. It is also known to reduce the swelling and the pain caused in the joints due to rheumatoid arthritis. However, it has been seen that the relief won’t occur for about six weeks.
The Mediterranean diet is known to be loaded with various fruits, healthy fats, veggies, fish, whole grains, and beans. These foods are known to contain natural chemicals that can help to lower the inflammation as well as keep it in check. The intake of beans, veggies, and whole grains is known to be very important because they are rich in fiber. Fish, as we are all aware, is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which, again, are said to be healthy fats for the body. In the fish category, the individual can start to consume fish such as anchovies, herring, salmon, and sardines. This Mediterranean diet is also said to be reliant on the importance of olive oil, which is another healthy fat for the body. It basically can be added in place of butter, which is a full-fat, less healthy dairy item. Especially for rheumatoid arthritis patients, olive oil is said to be extremely beneficial since it is known to lower the chemicals that can lead to the symptoms of arthritis, like inflammation. Again, the fruits and vegetables that are included in the Mediterranean diet are known to be full of antioxidants, which are also helpful in controlling one’s inflammation. You can go in for the ones which have deep or bright kinds of colors, and this would generally indicate that they are richer in antioxidants than most other food items. A few food choices that the individual can make for antioxidant-rich items are sweet potatoes, oranges, blueberries, broccoli, carrots, squash, peppers, tomatoes, and melons.
In one research study, it was seen that those women who ate this type of meal for a period of six to seven months began to show a good deal of improvement in their joint pain and swelling. Also, it was shown to have a more positive impact on the health of the individual than those who did not take up this diet. To bring about certain changes in the diet, you can also add in turmeric or ginger since they are not part of the Mediterranean diet. These two spices are known to lower inflammation in a natural way. For those individuals who take blood thinners, it is important to first speak to the doctor before adding turmeric to the diet since it is known to prevent the blood from clotting. Red wine is another classic part of the Mediterranean diet, but, again, check with the doctor first to see if it is okay to have as per your health. For those individuals who take methotrexate, it is important to avoid alcohol since it can increase the chance of liver damage.