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Can Your Diet Help Relieve Rheumatoid Arthritis?

If you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), you may have heard that a specific diet or certain foods can ease your pain, stiffness, and fatigue. 

Eating certain foods or avoiding certain foods may help your rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. But the Arthritis Foundation says there is no specific arthritis diet.

If you find certain foods make your rheumatoid arthritis symptoms worse and others make your symptoms better, it makes sense to make some changes to your diet. It's best to do that with advice from your doctor or a nutritionist, to make sure you get all the nutrients you need. 

Can a Mediterranean Diet Help Rheumatoid Arthritis?

The traditional Mediterranean diet is loaded with fruits, vegetables, nuts, olive oil, legumes, and fish. Those foods are rich in nutrients that are good for you. 

However, many other things also affect your health. A good diet is key, but it's not an RA cure. Your RA treatment plan should include traditional medicine, as well a healthy diet and other good habits.  

Will Going Gluten-Free Relieve Joint Pain?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. It's also found in many packaged and restaurant foods. When people who have celiac disease eat gluten, their bodies react by attacking the small intestine and preventing the body from absorbing nutrients. Over time, this can slow growth or lead to anemia, osteoporosis, and intestinal cancer.

What does celiac disease have to do with rheumatoid arthritis (RA)? Research shows that having an autoimmune disease (like RA) increases your change of getting another (like celiac disease or diabetes). Plus, there’s evidence to suggest that people with RA, but not celiac disease, have improved symptoms when they avoid gluten.

Going gluten-free doesn’t work for everyone. In some cases, it may keep the body from getting the nutrients it needs or make other illnesses worse. Unlike wheat products, gluten-free foods are low in fiber and they don’t have to be fortified, so they’re often lacking important vitamins and minerals. What’s more, many gluten-free products are higher in fat and calories.

Before you decide to go gluten-free, talk to your doctor or dietitian, and get screened for celiac disease. If you start the diet before being tested, doctors won’t be able to tell if you have it or not.

What Vitamins and Minerals Are Important for Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Folic acid, or folate, is a B vitamin that helps your body make red blood cells. If you take the drug methotrexate, folic acid may help you to avoid some of the drug's side effects.

Supplementing your diet with bone-boosting calcium and vitamin D is important, especially if you take corticosteroids (like prednisone) that can cause bone loss. Bone loss is more likely in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Check with your doctor to see how much calcium and vitamin D you need to get daily through foods, supplements, and sunlight.

WebMD Medical Reference

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