Fun Ways to Fight Rheumatoid Arthritis with Nutrition | Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior

Fun Ways to Fight Rheumatoid Arthritis with Nutrition

horton with caption

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Nutrition, Tickles, and Trunks

How do you make an elephant float? Two scoops of ice cream, root beer, and an elephant.

Sorry, not sorry, I know it’s corny. I’ve been telling that joke for almost 40 years and I still laugh. I’m incorrigible.

Is Rheumatoid Arthritis nutrition that easy? Well, if you’ve ever searched Rheumatoid Arthritis on Google, you know there are lots of ridiculous recipes for a cure. There are foods to eat and foods to avoid. There are gloves and creams and sprays. Funny, fake, and preposterous cures abound – anything to get you to CLICK HERE NOW!

Once, we were visiting NASA on a “free entry for locals” day. A woman who saw me struggling to walk approached me with her cure: “I was like you just last month – until I drank acai juice.” She meant well, so I didn’t laugh in her face. But, I think my kids gave her a look.

A friend of mine did give me a large bottle of the juice. I was glad to give it a try. I’m not a cynic. I’m even willing to inject myself at home with chemo drugs and new-fangled biologics—Hey, I’m willing to try anything within reason to treat Rheumatoid Arthritis, nutrition included.

Rheumatoid Arthritis, nutrition, and pills

That brings us to my internist. He is a good doctor. And I know he cares because when he got a look at my numerous abnormal lab results, he had the vitamin talk with me. He gave me list of supplements he wants me to use. It’s not one more absurd attempt at a cure. He just knows that Rheumatoid Arthritis is out to destroy my entire body and he wants me to put every good weapon in my arsenal.

When I looked at the list of the supplements, I did the math. “That’s a lot of pills,” I thought. Then I started collecting the various bottles on the counter. “THAT’S IMPOSSIBLE,” I said. (It really is a huge number of pills because of the amount of each supplement that I need.)

You may know this one already: How do you eat an elephant? …One bite at a time, right?

Rheumatoid Arthritis nutrition can be easier than it looks

So, I devised a plan for the vitamins and supplements. It has really helped. I got one of those large divided pill boxes people use for weekly pills. But, I don’t label it with the days of the week. I open the bottles and fill up the compartments. One is for fish oil, one is for calcium, one is for vitamin D, one for iron and so on. I can fit enough in there to get through several days.

Here is the rest of my method: I keep the box nearby and every time I eat a meal, I swallow some pills. If I eat a brownie at night with the kids, I swallow some pills. That takes care of about half of the pills for a day.

The other half of the pills, I take this way: chill some healthy juices that are considered a special treat. A couple of times a day, I pour out a big shot (about six ounces) and swallow some pills. These have to be the ones that don’t cause much stomach upset, like Vitamin C or flax oil. Since the juice is a treat, the pills go down easier. Sometimes, I add healthy nuts or something like that. As for juices, my favorites are  the V-8 fusion flavors or Welch’s purple.

It’s not cheesecake, but it’s still a good thing.

How about one laugh for the road?

Why are elephants trumpeters? …Because it’s too hard to learn to play the piano.

Recommended reading:

Kelly O'Neill

Kelly O'Neill (formerly Kelly Young) has worked about 12 years as an advocate helping patients to be better informed and have a greater voice in their healthcare. She is the author of the best-selling book Rheumatoid Arthritis Unmasked: 10 Dangers of Rheumatoid Disease. Kelly received national acknowledgement with the 2011 WebMD Health Hero award. She is the president of the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation. Through her writing and speaking, she builds a more accurate awareness of rheumatoid disease (RD) aka rheumatoid arthritis (RA) geared toward the public and medical community; creates ways to empower patients to advocate for improved diagnosis and treatment; and brings recognition and visibility to the RA patient journey. In addition to RA Warrior, she writes periodically for newsletters, magazines, and websites. There are over 60,000 connections of her highly interactive Facebook page. You can also connect with Kelly on Twitter or YouTube, or LinkedIn. She created the hashtag: #rheum. Kelly is a mother of five, longtime home-schooler, NASA enthusiast, and NFL fan. She has lived over fourteen years with unrelenting RD. See also https:/

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16 thoughts on “Fun Ways to Fight Rheumatoid Arthritis with Nutrition

  • May 29, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    What a great trick!

    Reading this and realized I forgot to take my meds today. Thanks for the reminder.

  • December 23, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    Kelly, I would love to see your list of supplements! I would love to see everyone’s list of supplements. I know that there are some things that I should take, but I have no idea how much to take. My doc doesn’t help much with this and I don’t really trust the folks that actually sell this stuff. I mean, some of them are also fans of the coffee enemas! LOL

    I take:
    Nature Made folic acid with DHA 2 600mcg/day
    Nature Made biotin 2 2500mcg/day
    Costco chewable calcium with vit. D (2)

    I know that I should take fishoil but I’m allergic to shellfish so I’m a bit leery of it. A friend has just given me some omega 3 oil made for vegetarians. I’m going to try that.

    Any other suggestions?

    • December 24, 2009 at 12:11 am

      Kate, I have a feature post begun on supplements. I’ll get to it asap. We do need to do the most we can to be healthy, even if it is not the cure to RA! RA’ers need to eat healthy even more than others for lots of reasons…

      Just checking: does your doc prescribe a folic acid dose? It should probably not be an otc folic acid because the FDA can’t require that the exact dose is correct in each tablet. It is cheap by prescription and this way you get exactly what the doc wants you to have, which is usually at least 1000 mcg / 1 mg per day.

      My Rheumy has not really discussed the other supplements with me. But as I mentioned here, one reason that I love my gp is that he does. I think taking time to talk to people about nutrition is a good quality in a doctor, so maybe your pcp would be willing to look at a list with you. He goes over my lab work and looks for anything we can do to fight my various deficiencies which are mainly caused by RA.

      Oh, by the way, try taking flax oil for Omega-3 if you cannot take fish oil.

  • January 11, 2010 at 1:35 am

    I know there are a lot of nutritional ideas. but I found for myself when I tried to loose weight with the modified Atkins diet with my Rheumatologists ok that:
    1)increase of protein–some every meal
    2)decrease of processed carbohydrates like breads, pastas, and desserts decreased a lot of my pain.
    I then also increased my activity even if I hurt because once the “juices” got flowing It was easier and less painful.

    Now I know that this does not work for every one but it worked for me, and if I am haveing a large increase in pain I review my diet to see if I have fallen to far off of the wagon and it helps to decreas some of my pain. I know that it probably will not matter eventually but it does now.

  • April 28, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    I believe my RA is related to having had irritable bowel syndrome for over 14 years. FOr years I thought the key to health was lots of vegies and fruit and whole grains and not much meat. So that’s what I ate, and my IBS symptoms lessened and worsened over the years, although I was never really free of intestinal trouble of some kind. ANd I was always prone to infections, colds and flu’s etc.
    By the time I had what I now realise were the early signs of RA i was feeling super tired all the time and visited a naturopath who put me on an ani-candida diet. My energy level impoved remarkably right away and I follwed his recommedations for two months, during which time I lost about 15 kilos. However then I had the RA flare up and was in pain all over my body. At first i thought it was just candida “die-off”, which i had read alot about. The swollen finger didn’t go away (and still has not over a month later) so I started to think it was more serious than candida die off. I’m not sur eif the change in diet brought on the RA or what, but anyhow I started to invetigate the role of diet in RA and came across info regarding the metabolic diet. I have been following those ideas for about 9 days and already I can’t believe what a difference this has made. MY digestion is NORMAL after years of not being. I have cut out some of the supps I was taking , since I now understand things a little differently. I am what they call a “protein” type, meaning i need to get alot of calories from animal protein and fat and only about 30% from carbs. I think that eating mostly vegetarian type food for the last 20 years has contributed to my now poor health. It makes sense… something like 60% of your immune system is in your gut/intestines…and RA is an auto-immune diease right? So that basically means that my immune system is not functioning correctly. how coud it when it’s been fed all the wrong things for the last 39 years?? I had gut trouble as as an infant! I am interested to see whether following this diet will bring me further relief of the RA, so far i have alot less pain, and I don’t know if that is to do with having daily seafood (which I have been doing since i read it was a cure for RA and seafood is on my list of recommeneded foods for my type), or just because of the metabolic diet generally. the funny thing is all the foods that are on my list are the foods my body has been CRAVING all those years i thought i was eating “healthy” !
    I know i probably sound like a crackpot, but i will keep eatng this way because my body loves it and i do feel better. if i wasn’t feeling beter perhaps i would be discouraged. has anyone else here tried the metabolic way of eating for RA??

  • April 29, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    I have been managing my RA with a low carb diet for several years. I discovered the response of High Protein when I tried the Modified Atkins diet several years ago. It cut out most White foods except fish.

  • April 17, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    You are missing the boat on RA cures; the honey and vinegar diet was proven to work by the late Dr Jarvis in 1958 as described by Dr Saul at the above website. I was cured in 48 hours! [With a daily dose; I call it cured when it eliminates symptoms even though ongoing dosing due to leakey gut syndrome!]

  • May 9, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    I would really love to believe that there is a cure for RA, something as simple as a diet change or taking Apple Cider vinegar or something of the like. I have tried vegetarianism, mostly vegan(I still had honey) and am now trying gluten free.

    Although many of the dietary changes I have made in some way or another helped decrease my pain for sometime, it never completely “cured” my symptoms. I still woke up still, regardless if I had or had not been exercising. I still experienced joint pain. Overall, it helped my energy levels and decreased my pain for some time but I still had flare ups.

    I would love to see/know if supplements/vitamins would help decrease pain or RA symptoms. Has anyone noticed any difference?

  • January 15, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    My 16 year old daghter has RA. She is responding well to the methatrexate so far. When I mention supplements to her doctor, she was sort of flippant about it and said “well you can if you want to”. Should all RA patients be on a suppliment regiment? I dont know weather to be annoyed with her doctor or not.

  • April 4, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    Two score and four seasons of Christmas,
    Twelve monthly affirmationsm eleven home adaptations,
    Ten fingers straightened,Nine foot operations,
    Eight-(ty) mighty medications, Exercise and relaxation,
    Six copper bracelets, Five knee replacements,
    Neck fused in four places, Three Certified Psychologists,
    Two Grande Rhematologists,
    and one unconditionally loving Father GOD,
    to bring me through eternity. copyrighted by me Patricia Anita Young. I designed my poem in the shape of a multi-colorful Christmas Tree.

  • April 4, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    I found that believing that things will get better, believing that there are researchers greater than ourselves and that my future will only improve because the medications they are creating will allow me to live a full life.

    For me squelching my inner anger and stress and hopelessness was more difficult than treating my Rheumatoid disease.
    However, my PASSION has rescued me to believe in myself, love and treat myself with love and compassion and focus on becoming all I am meant to be regardless. RA does get more manageable.

  • March 6, 2015 at 4:56 pm

    Hi Kelly, thanks a lot for all of this information. It is incredibly helpful. Can you share the list of supplements you take and the reason behind it? I’m just getting into my RA research and would appreciate the navigation. Thanks much.

    • December 6, 2015 at 5:37 pm

      I will consider writing this in a post – there has been some ugliness around the topic of nutrition the past couple of years since some diet cure groups have become very aggressive online – but I’m sure I’ll write about it again in the future.

      This page is a good place to start – & asking a primary dr to check for specific deficiencies which are common in RD such as Vitamin D.


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