Rheumatoid Arthritis Diet
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease where the body’s own immune system proceeds to attack various joints or ligaments throughout the body. This disease produces chronic swelling in the lining of joints and predominately affecting the joints of the hands and feet. In addition, rheumatoid arthritis usually causes painful swelling in the tissues around the joints.
While rheumatoid arthritis may last for years and in some cases even a lifetime, the symptoms typically come and go. This debilitating condition raises the question as to what is the best diet plan for rheumatoid arthritis sufferers.
Below are listed a few anti-arthritis dietary recommendations:
Be Sure You Are Getting Enough Vitamin D
There is considerable evidence that adequate levels of vitamin D reduce the damaging affects of rheumatoid arthritis. The body utilises vitamin D to maintain healthy cartilage and it appears to prevent the breakdown of cartilage for individuals suffering rheumatoid arthritis. Cartilage is the connective tissue that provides a cushioning effect within joints. Vitamin D is a necessary fat-soluble vitamin that is present in food sources such as fish, liver, egg yolks, and dairy products that are fortified with vitamin D. However, the recommended solution to acquiring sufficient vitamin D levels is through direct exposure to sunlight. Directly exposing the body to ultraviolet light triggers the body to synthesize its own vitamin D.
Increase Your Vitamin C and Vitamin E Levels
Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that assists in neutralising free radicals which appear to also reduce the swelling in joints. A higher intake of vitamin E has been shown to alleviate the pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis and reduce the duration of stiffness. Increasing the levels of vitamin E has also shown to increase the grip strength of individuals suffering chronic rheumatoid arthritis. Increasing vitamin C levels has also proven beneficial for reducing the swelling through its highly effective antioxidant activities. Increasing levels of vitamin C and vitamin E is recommended as they both support each other and have proven to be of great benefit when consumed together.
Consume Food Sources That Contain Quercetin
Quercetin is a beneficial flavonoid and powerful antioxidant. Studies suggest that consuming food sources rich in quercetin appear to reduce swelling, including the swelling that occurs within the joints of rheumatoid arthritis patients. Rich dietary sources of quercetin include capers, lovage (white-flowered plant of the parsley family), chia seeds, red and yellow onions, broccoli, apples, citrus fruits, red grapes, cherries, and various other berries including cranberries, raspberries, and lingonberries or cowberry.
Consume Food Sources Rich In Copper, Zinc, and Vitamin B6
Our bodies utilise copper and zinc to produce enzymes that reduce swelling by neutralising free radicals. Copper also assists the body in developing and repairing connective tissue, ligaments, and tendons, which all surround the joints, therefore assisting in the stabilising of the joints. Zinc requires vitamin B6 for proper absorption and is involved with the producing of enzymes that also repair joints. It has been noticed that low levels of vitamin B6 have also been associated with increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis. Copper and zinc should be consumed together as the balance between the two is essential - Too much zinc interferes with copper absorption, and high quantities of copper can be toxic.
Rheumatoid arthritis seems to affect more women than men with symptoms often occurring around middle age, and is also a very common complaint within the older generation. Rheumatoid arthritis is different from osteoarthritis which is the common arthritis that often comes with older age. No one really understands what causes rheumatoid arthritis, it could be diet, genes, environment, hormones, or a combination of these factors. Treatments include lifestyle changes particularly adopting a more unprocessed food diet, medicine, or surgery. These treatments may prevent further joint damage and reduce pain and swelling. Before considering medicine or surgery it is recommended to experiment with and exhaust dietary choices!