There are dozens of books & hundreds of websites for RA diet cures, so one of them must be true…
One of the most bewildering topics in the ocean of RA information is nutrition. There are so many selling their cure for RA that the water is muddied between myth and fact. Search online for “Rheumatoid Arthritis diet” at your own risk.
Trying to distil the facts is complicated by the reality that science cannot yet demonstrate a specific cause or cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis. We must view results of studies with a critical eye, asking how carefully they are “controlled” by scientific methods. It also helps to seek out opinions of trusted resources like Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, or Johns Hopkins.
As I wrote recently, there is no Rheumatoid Arthritis cure. That includes diet. But that is only the beginning of the discussion of RA and diet. We still want to know 3 things**:
- Can I eat something to make my Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms worse?
- Can I eat anything to make my Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms better?
- Despite both of those answers, are there foods or supplements which can fight the effects of the disease?
1) Can food make my Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms worse?
Some have claimed that RA symptoms are worsened by eating certain foods. They believe that their RA symptoms are actually related to specific food sensitivities. However, studies show that removing foods from the diet tends to have only a temporary effect. There is no evidence of any long term affect on disease progression being related to certain foods.
However, there are still more questions than answers. Why do many people with RA also have some other kind of autoimmune disease or sensitivity to chemicals or foods? What causes a temporary improvement in RA symptoms some notice during fasting or food elimination? Do some people who receive a Rheumatoid Arthritis diagnosis but get a permanent remission actually have food allergies and not RA?
2) Can some foods make my Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms better?
Many people claim that eating foods with ingredients that are considered to have anti-inflammatory properties can improve their RA symptoms. While there is not a lot of scientific evidence for this either, it does seem like a harmless proposition, considering our alternatives. I think of eating so-called anti-inflammatory foods as akin to taking Advil. It is no RA cure, but if it provides even the slightest improvement of symptoms, I will consider it. As I explained in a recent post on natural cures, all that we really have are the substances here on the earth and what we make using them; sometimes we make false distinctions between natural and pharmaceutical medicines.
3) Are there things I can eat to help fight back against effects of the disease?
This one has a more definitive answer: Yes. Rheumatoid Arthritis often causes heart disease, osteoporosis, dry eyes, anemia, periodontal disease, malnutrition, or many other secondary conditions often referred to as “complications of RA.” It is well documented that foods and supplements are useful to combat these conditions.
In part 2, we’ll look at some specific foods or supplements RA’ers should consider for fighting either symptoms or the far-reaching effects of the disease. While nutrition cannot be considered a replacement for medicine, it is an important element of living with any chronic illness. It’s one more weapon to use to against RA to make our lives even a little better or a little longer.
**Note: All of these questions are more difficult to answer because of the varying nature of RA. Please read this post about why RA is so difficult to study and cure.