Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. This means that people with RA experience their own immune system attacking their joints. Rheumatoid arthritis causes inflammation. It affects the hands, feet, and other body parts. One way of supporting health while dealing with RA is to change the diet. Eating anti-inflammatory foods can make it easier to manage RA.
Many anti-inflammatory foods are plant-based. One of the keys to this is antioxidants. Antioxidants help the body manage free radicals. Free radicals cause oxidation and inflammation in the body. They’re linked to many disorders and even the development of some cancers. Free radicals have an extra electron, and they take additional electrons from other molecules. They can even damage DNA. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals by providing extra electrons for them. This keeps them from damaging bodily structures.
Vegetables, fruits, and some spices are full of antioxidants. For some people with RA, making the change to a more Mediterranean type diet can lead to real improvement in symptoms. Meals that include things like olive oil, steamed vegetables, and whole grains contain antioxidants and polyphenols that can fight inflammation.
Another issue is maintaining a healthy body weight. Fat cells are another promoter of inflammation. This is due, in part, to cytokines. Eating small meals several times a day can be a good way to stave off hunger. Again, being plant-based can help. Plants are rich in fiber, which helps people feel fuller for longer. This makes it easier to manage hunger throughout the day.
Using the right spices can also fight inflammation. One example of this is turmeric. Turmeric is rich in curcumin, which seems to help relieve inflammatory responses. When paired with black pepper, curcumin is more readily available to the body. There are teas available that combine turmeric with pepper. Or this spice combination can be used to season meals.
One non-plant-based food that can be beneficial in relieving inflammation is fish. Oily fish contain omega-3 fatty acids. Tuna, sardines, and salmon are examples of fish with these properties. For the best effects, the fish should not be fried before being eaten. Not everyone with RA will enjoy all of these foods, but there’s lots of variety. It’s worth trying some of them.