RA and Your Diet: Can Foods Reduce Inflammation?
Are There Any Foods to Avoid?
There doesn't seem to be a connection between most foods and worsening RA symptoms. One exception may be red meat. "Some studies have shown a connection between higher red meat consumption and a worsening of RA symptoms," says Friedman. Not all studies have found a link, though, so more research is necessary.
However, Friedman and Sandon agree that cutting back on red meat for better heart health is a good idea anyway. "Heart disease is the number one cause of death in people with RA, so eating with heart health in mind is certainly important," says Friedman.
The Role of Food Sensitivities
Some people with RA may have sensitivities to certain foods that make their symptoms flare. You can try eliminating suspect foods to see if you feel better. Then, add the foods back one at a time to see if your symptoms return. "Many of my patients report feeling much better when they go gluten free," says Friedman, although he doesn't recommend this diet for everyone. "I'm still a bit of a skeptic," he says.
Sandon says that how food affects RA symptoms is very individual. "It doesn’t always fit with what the science tells us. But if a particular food seems to increase your symptoms, you don't need to eat it."