You already know that what you eat can impact your weight, shape and elements of your health like your blood pressure and cholesterol. But did you know that your diet can also play a role in your experience with rheumatoid arthritis (RA)?
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Registered dietitian Beth Czerwony, RD, explains how an anti-inflammatory diet can help relieve your rheumatoid arthritis symptoms — and which foods can make you feel worse.
Does diet affect rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis and diet are more closely connected than you might expect.
RA is caused by uncontrolled inflammation in the body, which damages the cartilage between your joints. But certain foods are known to be anti-inflammatory, meaning they can help soothe or prevent inflammation. And on the other end of the spectrum are foods that cause inflammation.
“With inflammatory conditions, the body’s immune system attacks itself, which causes pain and cell damage,” Czerwony explains. “Your diet can make these symptoms less intense or less frequent — or, on the other hand, consuming foods that cause inflammation can aggravate your symptoms.”
What’s the best diet for someone with rheumatoid arthritis?
No singular diet or style of eating can treat or cure rheumatoid arthritis, but focusing on healthy, whole foods eating, in general, can have a positive impact on your RA symptoms.
“Following a low-fat, low-sugar diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables will help quiet down the inflammation,” Czerwony says.
And consider antioxidants your own personal superheroes, here to help you fend off inflammation. These molecules, found in certain foods, help decrease free radicals in your body — which is especially important for people with RA.
“Free radicals are natural byproducts of our metabolism, and they can also be caused by external factors like stress, smoking and pollution,” Czerwony explains. “They can cause cell damage, which increases…