It's time to kick that morning donut and coffee habit. Research shows that eating particular foods like sugary treats and certain caffeinated beverages may worsen rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. There are a range of drugs that treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but don't ignore the simpler ways of reducing RA pain like diet modification. Though the research surrounding diet and RA is still inconclusive, many doctors recommend cutting out common foods that trigger RA symptoms to see if this improves symptoms. As of now there is no agreed upon diet for rheumatoid arthritis, but there are some people who do seem to have food sensitivities. However, here are five foods commonly reported to aggravate arthritis symptoms:
RA symptoms may flare as a response to specific proteins found in dairy products. Some people with rheumatoid arthritis who report intolerance to milk have antibodies to milk proteins. The body forms these antibodies to protect itself from what it mistakenly perceives as a harmful substance, but the antibodies attack other parts of the body in addition to the milk. Cut dairy products from your diet to see if that reduces RA symptoms.
Changing to a vegetarian diet often improves RA symptoms. Consumption of meat is associated with higher overall fat and calorie intake, which are markers for an unhealthy lifestyle. The fats in meat are more easily metabolized into pro-inflammatory chemicals in the body. Production of these inflammatory chemicals are good in certain circumstances - like when you are fighting an infection, but they can also cause painful inflammation and swelling in spaces like your joints. Instead of eating meat, supplement your diet with plant sources of protein such as beans, lentils and soy.
Research shows that many people with RA also have celiac disease, which is triggered by gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat and other grains that gives dough a chewy texture. When someone has celiac disease, eating gluten causes an immune reaction within the small intestine which can leas to bloating and diarrhea.
4) Refined Sugar and Sweets
While certain carbohydrates may be an essential part of our diets, refined sugars and sweets are not, as much as we may enjoy them. Refined sugars, such as high fructose corn syrup, are empty calories devoid of any nutrients. Cutting down on refined sugar is even ore important for people with rheumatoid arthritis because the chronic inflammation in RA impairs the body's ability to break down sweets. Risk for cardiovascular disease is also high for patients with RA and controlling blood pressure and cholesterol is crucial.
America is powered by caffeine: more than 150 million people drink coffee in the US, with each individual consuming more than three cups daily, according to the National Coffee Association. The health effects of coffee are controversial especially in regard to rheumatoid arthritis.
Diet modification is not for everyone. Talk to your doctor or a nutritionist about meal planning before making any notable changes. If you do not see any improvement in your symptoms after cutting out a food for four weeks, you may want to reinsert the food back into your diet.