Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is essentially an inflammatory disease caused by an adverse reaction by our own immune systems. The pain, discomfort and limited range of motion we feel is physiologically caused by inflammation, which is the major focus of RA treatment. In this regard, there are certain foods that RA patients can consume to reduce inflammation and at the same time soften the side effects of some medications.
There are no less than 6 based on the concept that diet can reduce chronic inflammation. Nutritionists routinely recommend to RA patients and others with inflammatory conditions the following foods to help fight the harmful effects of inflammation and improve their overall health:
Juice from oranges, lemons, grapefruits, and tangerines is loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants that not only help to reduce swelling but also promotes healthy ligaments and tissue. The recommended daily allowance of vitamin C for men is 75 mg and 90 mg for women. The best way to get the benefits from citrus fruits is to consume small amounts throughout the day; to this effect, grapefruit juice is perfect to drink during breakfast and oranges are great for snacks.
Aside from being delicious, strawberries and blueberries are similar to citrus fruits in their high antioxidant compounds that fight inflammation. A daily serving of berry fruits is recommended for those who live with RA.
Pure wheat and other grains that have not been thoroughly processed are very nutritious and rich in vitamin E, which has been linked with helping reducing arthritic pain. The key to incorporating whole grains to our daily nutrition is to replace dietary staples such as white rice, pasta and white bread with wild rice, brown pasta and wheat bread.
Pineapples & Papayas
Fruits that are rich in enzymes, like papayas and pineapples, are recommended to RA patients for their ability to reduce swelling and pain. Pineapples contain the powerful bromelain enzyme, which is a staple of natural medicine. A bowl of fresh-cut pineapple cubes in the morning or as a mid-day snack is a great source of enzymes and vitamin C, and many Asian-fusion recipes call for pineapple slivers or juice to add a zesty flavor.
Extra-virgin olive oil is a very important staple of Mediterranean cuisine. In countries like Greece and Italy, olive oil was once used as currency. Researchers have looked into the healing properties of olive oil by studying the diets of Mediterranean people who seem to be less susceptible to inflammatory diseases. The key to olive oil seems to be in compounds that act similar to ibuprofen.
In many Asian countries, ginger is taken in lieu of aspirin and ibuprofen, two medications that are familiar to RA patients. Just like with olive oil, ginger supplements seem to have a direct effect on inflammation, but they may also contribute to blood thinning just like aspirin; for this reason, ginger should be taken in moderation.
According to experts, more research is underway (and necessary) to determine how much of any of the compounds in anti inflammatory foods would have to be eaten to derive the benefit(s). That being said, we can all agree that eating well is not known for making any health condition worse!
Your Health . . . It’s Worth It!
Dr. Kate Gerber & Dr. John Gerber