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Can a Plant-based Diet Lead to Fewer RA Symptoms?

Can a Plant-based Diet Lead to Fewer RA Symptoms?

Diet alone won’t cure Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), however a new study finds that some small changes to your diet can have life-altering affects for those suffering with its symptoms like chronic fatigue, joint stiffness and pain.

RA is the most common autoimmune disease and causes the body’s immune system to become overactive and attack itself, instead of the bacteria and viruses in the body. RA typically affects the joints and tissue in the hands, knees or ankles, but can also affect the eyes, heart and lungs. It causes inflammation that, over time, can cause permanent joint damage and deformity, as well as heart disease, cornea and lung damage.

Family history, cigarette smoking and obesity are common risk factors for RA with women being twice as likely to have RA and suffer more severe symptoms than men.

While there is no cure for RA, the study suggests that medication and exercise along with a plant-based or vegan diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes helps to reduce the symptoms of RA. Plant-based foods are generally lower in fat and higher in fiber leading researchers to suggest that eating plants decreases the inflammation in the body.

Inflammation reduction is key to helping reduce the effects of RA on the body. Chocolate and refined sugar are among some of the worst choices for those suffering with RA, however pinpointing food issues can be challenging. A registered dietician or nutritionist can help determine what kinds of food may be triggering symptoms and work to create a diet that works best for you.

Eliminating trigger foods can help to drastically reduce symptoms within months. In general, reducing or eliminating processed foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, alcohol, caffeine, fried foods and red meat can help:

  • Reduce joint swelling
  • Ease joint pain
  • Restore range of motion
  • Decrease morning stiffness
  • Increase hand grip strength
  • Enhance overall quality of life

For those suffering with the debilitating symptoms of RA, it can’t hurt to try some version of a plant-based or vegan diet. Start slow and try eliminating a few foods at a time. The benefits will not only affect RA symptoms but can help improve your overall health by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.