Rheumatoid arthritis inflammatory disease primarily affecting joints and is characterised by changes in synovial membranes characterised by degeneration of joint muscle and bone loss. It commonly affects small joints of hands and feet but can affect other joints as well. Patients often complain about pain, stiffness and swelling.
Causes of rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is the autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks it own body tissues instead of germs and virus. Almost 1-2% of population worldwide is affected by rheumatoid arthritis. Women are more affected by rheumatoid arthritis than man. Although the exact causes of rheumatoid arthritis are unknown. Some of the factors which contributes to increase the likeliness of developing rheumatoid arthritis or worsen the inflammation are;
- Red meat
- Cold and damp
Diet management in rheumatoid arthritis
Nutritional management along with medicines and exercise is extremely important in patients with RA. These patients are considered to be at nutritional risk as result of excessive medications , increases metabolic rate and protein breakdown. Similarly overweight individuals are more at risk of developing arthritis as excess weight put additional burden on joints and increase pain, stiffness and swelling. A regular diet and exercise is needed in order to shed extra pounds.
Studies reveals that patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis are at high risk of developing obesity, abnormal vitamin levels and poor nutrient intake.
Fats and lipids
Low fat or fat free diets lead to low serum levels of vitamin A and E which aggravate rheumatoid arthritis. Rather than eliminating fats change the type of fats . Omega 3 fatty acids found in oily fish, flaxseeds or cod liver oil is effective in reducing inflammation and have been shown to reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Monounsaturated fatty acids found in olive oil is beneficial for R A arthritis patients because of its anti microbial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Vitamins and minerals
RA patients are more susceptible to vitamin and minerals deficiency as the pain relieving medications alter vitamins and mineral levels.
Calcium and vitamin D malabsorption and bone demineralisation are reported in advance stages of rheumatoid arthritis. Enough calcium is needed by RA patients as they are at higher risk of developing osteoporosis.
Vitamin D supplements are often required ,when the exposure to sunlight is not enough. A regular examination of serum vitamin and mineral levels is necessary in order to keep a check on the deficiencies associated with excessive use of anti inflammatory medicines.
Recent researches advocate the use of Mediterranean diet to lower inflammation and cure some symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.Mediterranean diet is packed with vegetables, fruits, fatty fish , whole grains, beans, and monounsaturated fatty acids as in olive oil which give relief in pain and inflammation. The fatty fish for example mackerel, salmon are rich source of omega 3 and fruits and vegetables are rich source of antioxidants. All these foods helps to curb inflammation.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder which requires proper medical care. Dietary management is essential in order to avoid deficiencies associated with drug nutrients interactions and to relieve symptoms of chronic inflammation.
Some of the important tips to prevent inflammation are
- Maintain healthy weight through proper diet along with regular exercise.
- Add omega 3 and monounsaturated fatty acids in your daily diet. Sources of omega 3 are fish, cod liver oil, flaxseeds. Monounsaturated fatty acids is found in olive oil.
- Eat variety of fruits and vegetables which are the rich source of antioxidants. Antioxidants helps to reduce inflammation and improve symptoms of arthritis.