What to eat if you have rheumatoid arthritis

fish oil capsules

Rachel Worsley

Dietary changes can help people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) but can't replace medicines, otherwise known as DMARDs - Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs, a US review of evidence has found.

The researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital say it is challenging to study diet as an additional therapy in RA.  However, based on the available evidence, they say there are some tips for people with RA wanting to make dietary changes to improve symptoms:    

  1. Fish oil supplements containing 3g of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA plus DHA daily may improve some RA symptoms;
  2. A Mediterranean diet may improve pain and morning stiffness;
  3. Avoid alcoholic drinks if possible, or limit intake to 2-3 drinks a week, as it could interact with methotrexate and leflunomide in particular;
  4. Vitamin D supplements are recommended, not to modify RA disease activity, but to prevent osteoporosis if you are at high risk;
  5. Don't avoid nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant) as they contain important vitamins and minerals;
  6. Avoid consuming a Western diet (higher intake of red and processed meats, sweets and desserts, French fries and refined grains) as it has been linked to elevated biomarkers of inflammation.

References

Tedeschi SK, Kostenbader KH. Is there a role for diet in the therapy of rheumatoid arthritis? Curr Rheumatol Rep. 2016 May;18(5):23. doi: 10.1007/s11926-016-0575-y.
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