RA and beneficial foods

Rheumatoid arthritis is a serious disease. It’s called an autoimmune disease because its symptoms are brought about by the body’s defensive antibodies attacking its own tissues.

In RA, they attack the synovium, a fluid-filled capsule that surrounds the joints, causing inflammation and often, severe pain. As it destroys these tissues, RA may eventually cause joint deformation and disability.

But RA is also systemic. It affects the entire body, sometimes attacking organs like the heart and lungs, the eyes, other soft tissues such as the tendons and ligaments, and even the veins.

The good news is that it’s treatable. Modern medicine has developed several types of medications that, while they cannot cure this incurable disease, can slow its progress to a crawl and help to relieve pain and stiffness.

There are several simple lifestyle changes that can have a beneficial effect regarding rheumatoid arthritis as well. These include a healthy diet to keep body weight under control, stopping smoking and getting adequate, gentle exercise to build and maintain muscle mass in weight-bearing joints and to preserve range of motion.

In my previous post I wrote about the controversy over nightshade foods as to whether they cause increased disease activity. Now I’d like to talk about foods that can be beneficial.

foodsthatreducearthritisFirst up is extra-virgin olive oil. It’s rich in oleic acid, an omega-9 fatty acid that keeps inflammation down. It doesn’t hurt that EVOO is also considered a “good” fat to use if you’re trying to keep your cholesterol levels under control. It also tastes really good.

Certain types of fish, like salmon, tuna or bass are also beneficial—they’re packed with omega-3 fatty acid. The anti-inflammatory activity of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids may be beneficial. These are also wise fish choices for healthy weight loss or maintenance.

Eat several servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Many of them have anti-inflammatory properties, and it doesn’t hurt that they’re generally low in calories and high in nutrition. Green tea can have an anti-inflammatory effect, too. It’s also been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Nuts and seeds like almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds help to reduce inflammation and have the added benefit of providing healthy fats in your diet.

Herbs and spices flavor up food and help reduce inflammation, too. Ginger and turmeric are particularly good for that, and garlic is wonderful. Low-fat dairy foods are rich in bone-building calcium, which is vital in regards to RA. Whole-grain breads, brown rice and other products made with whole grains provide fiber and help to keep your blood-sugar (glycemic) level under control.

For more information about treating your RA naturally through the foods you eat, check out this Healthline slideshow.




5 thoughts on “RA and beneficial foods

  1. Hi Wren, another nice, clear article … but it might be worth mentioning that tinned tuna (which I really like) doesn’t do you any particular good as apparently all the omega-3 goodness is taken out of it in the tinning process!


  2. Is that so! I’d never heard of that! WELL! I shall do further research and add a note, Penguin. Thank you for the heads-up!


  3. Tinned tuna in brine or water is just any old fish – but done in high grade olive oil is better. There are varying claims about the nutritional content of tinned tuna – and the most denigrating are from the more extreme dietary versions. It’s such a shame as it is very useful for those of us who aren’t next door to a fish shop. Nevertheless – our big supermarket here up a mountain in Italy has a far better fish counter than many places in the UK! Replenished daily!

    Salmon done in the oven in olive oil tonight on a bed (including pillow and duvet) of salad leaves 🙂 Will try not to forget the sunflower seeds on the salad…


  4. Wow, Eileen, that salmon dinner you had sounds scrumptuous! I love salmon myself, and I love tinned tuna in a salad as a meal, too., although I’ve avoided tuna packed in any sort of oil for years now because of the extra calories. Now, tuna packed in olive oil would be a different story, I think, even though it would have a higher calorie count. I’ll have to keep my eyes open for it.

    And it’s VERY cool that you’re able to get fresh fish “up a mountain in Italy.” That’s something it’s hard to get here at the edge of the valley, a little over two hours from the ocean…


  5. 🙂 It was delicious! And I remembered the seeds!

    I’m sure you drain your tuna before using it whether it is in brine or oil don’t you? So the calorie difference isn’t as high as you’d think. For example, if you take 150g as a portion (which to me is a lot) the difference is about 100 cals between water-packed and oil packed. I would be quite happy with 100g of good oil-packed because it tastes better and is more satisfying – and then you are looking at a very similar calorie count.

    Personally, I’m a member of the “there are different calories” movement! Olive oil is a major component of the mediterranean diet and highly antiinflammatory. If you are going to have fat/oil of any sort in your diet (and you MUST have some) then good butter and olive oil are the ones to choose – not chemically produced artificial ones. I’d far rather have a smaller portion of high quality anything than more of poorer food.

    On your Blogroll at the side you have a link to Steve’s Mediterranean diet – go read, he is brilliant! Since I cut down carbs I’ve lost weight steadily AND the arthritis is also better. I don’t eat NO carb – but I doubt it is more than 80g a day and it is always high quality. The bogey is fat PLUS carb, especially rubbish carbs with loads of sugar. That’s what turns to fat on your hips.

    There is increasing real evidence that it is not fat that is the big bad food substance (many of us never believed it was) – “low fat” has achieved nothing besides an increasing rate of overweight and metabolic syndrome. Remove fat and it has to be replaced by sugar and other stuff to make the food taste good enough to eat. Remove the fat and you get a spike of blood sugar which is followed by it plunging to a level where you crave something to get it back up – and that leads to a vicious cycle of sugar ups and downs which, in turn leads to your body becoming resistant to insulin. And the weight goes on, and on, and on… Leave the fat in and the spike is smoothed as your stomach empties more slowly and you are full for longer.

    A meal with a decent moderate helping of protein (100g is plenty) cooked in a small amount of good fat and filling you up with salad and veggies (predominantly above ground ones) to provide your carbs tastes good and is satisfying – and you won’t be desperate for that pudding at lunch or snack mid-afternoon. Before long you will find you don’t WANT a sticky cake – or if you do, you can only eat the half or even less. You reduce calories simply by not wanting/needing them. The clue is portion control (currently “portions” are about double what they were 30 years ago, we didn’t waste away then did we?). You don’t have to say “I can’t have…” – you just have a smaller amount and savour it – good ingredients and good flavour and ENJOY it!


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