Can eating the right foods relieve RA symptoms? Some research shows that fish oils reduce joint inflammation - but the unfortunate reality is that despite years of study, no conclusive evidence shows that any foods make RA symptoms flare up or decrease.
In other words, there is no effective "rheumatoid arthritis diet." Research does show that weight reduction does help, since being overweight causes extra stress on RA sufferers' weight-bearing joints. That increases joint pain, stiffness and inflammation.
Beyond that, each patient is different. While there is no rheumatoid arthritis diet, doctors do advise patients to avoid any food that seems to make symptoms worse. At the same time, they caution against fad diets, such as excluding whole food groups. For example, a popular misconception is that gluten, found in wheat, is detrimental to RA. No research backs up such a claim. Nevertheless, scores of RA patients are shunning wheat products.
Researchers at the University of Oslo in Norway have studied food-related antibodies (proteins that defend the body as part of the immune system) as relate to the RA diet. They discovered that RA patients' intestinal fluids had higher levels of proteins from milk, cereal, eggs, fish and pork than the general population.
Food allergies happen when your body mistakenly detects that something you've eaten is harmful. Immunoglobulin E antibodies come to your defense, setting off a chain reaction that causes such symptoms as joint aches, swelling and rashes.
One theory is that antibodies and some proteins form immune complexes in the patient's intestine. These circulate throughout the body, causing joint inflammation. The body remembers and reacts the next time that you eat the food that caused the problem.
The obvious solution for RA patients is to avoid foods that seem to make their condition worse. On the other hand, if certain foods help a patient's symptoms to improve, it only makes sense to adjust your diet accordingly.
However, according to the Arthritis Foundation, there's no recommended "arthritis diet."
Nevertheless, almost half of all people with RA report that they feel better from excluding "suspect" foods that they are convinced made things worse.
Saturated fats may increase inflammation in some people. So, RA sufferers may want to steer clear of bacon, steak, butter, and cream, which may possibly increase prostaglandins in the body, which some doctors believe cause inflammation, pain, swelling, and joint destruction in rheumatoid arthritis.
Other findings show that meat may be detrimental to RA patients since it contains high amounts of arachidonic acid, a fatty acid that the body converts to prostaglandins. As a result, some rheumatoid arthritis sufferers insist that a vegetarian diet has made their lives more livable. However, other RA patients report receiving no benefit whatsoever from a meatless diet - except for inconvenience.
What about Omega-6 fatty acids found in corn oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, wheat germ oil, and sesame oil? They contain linoleic acid. Some nutritionists believe that consuming too much Omega-6 fatty acids may provoke rheumatoid arthritis.
And the list goes on.
The bottom line is: What works for you?