Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease in which various joints in the body are inflamed, leading to swelling, pain, stiffness, and possibly loss of function.
There is no known cure for the condition, but Greg DeLorenzo MD, a rheumatologist at Group Health, says eating – and avoiding – certain foods may help manage symptoms.
What Foods Should I Be Eating?
“There’s certainly been a lot [of research] in the past few years about the low-inflammatory diet, which is kind of similar to the Mediterranean diet,” Dr. DeLorenzo explains.
The Mediterranean-style diet is based on:
- Plant-based meals, with just small amounts of meat and chicken, when they are used
- More servings of grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, and legumes
- Foods that naturally contain high amounts of fiber
- Plenty of fish and other seafood, rather than red meat
- Olive oil, a healthy, monounsaturated fat, as the main source of fat used to flavor and prepare foods
- Food that is prepared and seasoned simply, without sauces and gravies
Pay Attention to Your Body
In general, Dr. DeLorenzo says to pay attention to how your body reacts when you’re eating certain foods. “Anecdotally, I’ve had patients that’ll eat certain foods and it seems to make their arthritis flare. Obviously, avoid those things,” he adds.
He also says gluten, which is a wheat byproduct, appears to cause a rheumatoid arthritis flare-up in some people, so these individuals try to cut most foods with gluten out of their diet.