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Understanding the Rheumatoid Arhtritis Food Connection

Updated on November 4, 2009

As yet, there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis; however, recent studies have found substantial evidence to support theories that certain foods and types of diets may play an important role in reducing the risk of RA, as well as managing rheumatoid arthritis pain and inflammation

For years, the focus of rheumatoid arthritis research was on the antibodies in the blood that caused the immune system to turn on itself. It may be that researchers have been looking in the wrong place. Food antibodies in the digestive system may be more responsible for aggravating rheumatoid arthritis symptoms than previously believed. Many people with rheumatoid arthritis have recognized an increase in joint pain and stiffness after eating certain foods. This may be due to a food allergy.

A food allergy occurs when the body recognizes a food as harmful. It responds by producing antibodies. These antibodies set off a chain of reactions that may cause or contribute to inflammation. Once the body has made these antibodies for a certain food, it will continue to do so every time that food is introduced into the system. The study of food allergies in rheumatoid arthritis patients is in its infancy, and many unknowns remain. However, experts suggest eliminating foods from the diet that seem to worsen the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Saturated fats found in butter, cream, cheese and meats, along with Omega 6 fatty acids may be the biggest culprits in causing inflammation in the body. Some studies have shown that reducing the intake of these fats may help reduce pain and inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Many people have found that they need fewer anti-inflammatory medications when they limit the amount of unhealthy fats in their diet.

Reducing the amount of saturated fats commonly results in the introduction of healthier fats into the diet. Healthy, monounsaturated fats and fish oils may be partially responsible for the improvement in rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. Several scientific studies have shown their ability to actually reduce inflammation in the body. This may be the reason there is a lower incidence of rheumatoid arthritis among people living in Mediterranean countries. The Mediterranean diet is among the healthiest in the world. Studies are beginning to show that this style of eating has far reaching benefits, and it may actually reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.

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