Arthritis treatment: The best diet to reduce inflammation and ‘improve physical function’

Five warning signs of rheumatoid arthritis

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Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-term condition that causes pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints. It is an autoimmune condition, which means it’s caused by the immune system attacking healthy body tissue. “Depending on how much pain and stiffness you feel and how much joint damage you have, simple daily tasks may become difficult or take longer to do,” explains the NHS.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, but there are proven ways to mitigate its impact.

Mounting evidence suggests mediterranean-style diet can offset the worst effects of the autoimmune disease.

One study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) investigated the efficacy of a Mediterranean diet versus an ordinary Western diet for suppression of disease activity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Patients with well controlled, although active rheumatoid arthritis of at least two years’ duration, who were receiving stable pharmacological treatment, were invited to participate.

All patients were randomly allocated to the Mediterranean diet or the control diet.

To achieve good compliance with the prescribed diets, all patients were for the first three weeks served the Mediterranean diet or the control diet, respectively, for lunch and dinner at the outpatient clinic’s canteen.

Clinical examinations were performed at baseline (the beginning of the study), and again in the third, sixth, and 12th week.

“The results indicate that patients with RA [rheumatoid arthritis], by adjusting to a Mediterranean diet, did obtain a reduction in inflammatory activity, an increase in physical function, and improved vitality,” the researchers concluded.

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The findings are not surprising.

The Mediterranean diet is frequently touted for its anti-aging and disease-fighting powers.

Studies confirm that eating foods commonly part of the Mediterranean diet can help arthritis by curbing inflammation.

The Mediterranean diet varies by country and region, so it has a range of definitions.

But in general, it’s high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil. It usually includes a low intake of meat and dairy foods.

Other studies indicate that lifelong consumption of fish, olive oil and cooked vegetables may have independent protective effects on the development or severity of rheumatoid arthritis.

A key protective factor linked to healthy eating is aiding weight loss.

If you’re overweight, losing weight can really help you cope with arthritis.

The NHS explains: “Too much weight places excess pressure on the joints in your hips, knees, ankles and feet, leading to increased pain and mobility problems.”

Exercise, which can also aid weight loss, can also confer direct benefits for managing arthritis.

If your arthritis is painful, you may not feel like exercising.

“However, being active can help reduce and prevent pain,” notes the NHS.

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