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Rheumatoid Arthritis and Diet – What You Should Know About What You Eat

Updated on January 25, 2010

As a person who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis you may have found that, depending on what you eat, your rheumatoid arthritis symptoms may have been better or worse.  Several studies have shown that certain foods and natural supplements can have an effect on rheumatoid arthritis.

You should understand that everyone’s different and that what works for many people might not work for you.  The opposite is also true: some foods may affect your rheumatoid arthritis symptoms that don’t bother other people.  It may be helpful to keep a food journal and take notes on how you feel after eating certain foods.  This can help to narrow down and identify foods that affect your rheumatoid arthritis.

There are several programs that have been put together to manage rheumatoid arthritis and diet.  These programs claim to make rheumatoid arthritis symptoms more manageable and/or curable.  It’s important to keep in mind that currently, rheumatoid arthritis has no cure and that each person’s results will vary.  That being said, a lot of these programs are based on scientifically proven facts.  It’s important that you thoroughly investigate any programs before committing.

One of the key parts of any of these programs is a high dosage of omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids have been scientifically shown to contain compounds (DHA, EPA) that are naturally anti-inflammatory. This means that these compounds can help to reduce inflammation one of the key issues with rheumatoid arthritis. In fact, one study showed that, with time, 3 grams of omega 3 fatty acids taken daily was enough to reduce or eliminate the need for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as Advil or Aspirin. This is good for people with sensitive stomachs. Foods that are high in omega 3 fatty acids are cold-water fish (like salmon), flaxseed, and walnuts.

Similar studies have been conducted on foods high in omega 6 fatty acids. These studies have shown that compounds contained in Omega 6 fatty acids are pro-inflammatory, meaning that they are likely to promote or increase inflammation. Foods that are high in omega 6 fatty acids are most vegetable oils, corn, margarine, mayonnaise, salad dressings, fast foods, processed foods and granola. In addition, products from animals who east a high percentage of omega 6 rich foods have been shown to be high in omega 6 fatty acids themselves. This can include meat and dairy products from corn fed cows, pigs and chickens.

Nutritionists and doctors have recommended that a balance be struck between omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids. This is in part due to the fact that compounds from each fight for the same enzymes in our body. The recommended ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 is anywhere from 1:1 up to 2:1. The western diet typically ranges from 10:1 all the way up to 20:1!

There has been some suggestion that the Mediterranean diet helps rheumatoid arthritis because the cases of rheumatoid arthritis are less severe in countries such as Italy and Greece. Typically, the Mediterranean diet consists of lots of fruits and vegetables, plenty of olive oil, and fresh fatty fish.

Fish oil and rheumatoid arthritis have shown a positive correlation in helping with rheumatoid arthritis. This is most likely because fish oil is mainly omega 3 fatty acids derived from fish. Most people realize the benefits of fish oil supplements only after 12 weeks of taking a daily dose of at least 3 grams.

Diet is just one of many rheumatoid arthritis natural remedies that help control rheumatoid arthritis naturally. The best aspect of controlling RA naturally is that there are very few, if any side effects. There are numerous resource online that will help you control rheumatoid arthritis and with a comprehensive plan you can regain control of your life.

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