Rheumatoid Arthritis, What You Eat Can Matter

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2012-12-06 09:57

If you suffer with rheumatoid arthritis, you have a variety of management options, and drugs are typically the choice doctors recommend. But you should know that what you eat can matter as well, as experts and studies have shown.

Which foods are best for rheumatoid arthritis?

Before naming the foods that are best for rheumatoid arthritis, it helps to understand why some experts believe they make the list. Much of the reason has to do with the fact that rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, which means the body attacks its own tissues.

The intestinal tract has mucosa that absorbs and digests nutrients from food, making large food molecules into smaller ones. This process allows the smaller molecules to pass through the intestinal wall, leaving behind larger ones, which can cause infections and other problems if they were to escape the intestines.

Individuals with inflammatory arthritis have been shown to have an inflamed intestinal tract, which increases permeability of the intestinal walls and the chance that large molecules will infiltrate the bloodstream. This is a condition known as leaky gut. When these large molecules enter the blood, they can result in an inflammatory reaction.

According to various experts, including John A. McDougall, MD, founder and medical director of the McDougall Program and the author of many books, including The McDougall Program: 12 Days to Dynamic Health, choosing the right foods can maintain the integrity of the protective barrier in the intestinal tract and prevent leaky gut. The right foods include whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.

Foods that are the biggest culprits in rheumatoid arthritis, they say, are dairy products (which can cause the most severe problems) and other animal foods. This dietary approach should also be low in fats, including vegetable oils (even olive and flaxseed oils), which is a point that differs somewhat from other recommendations (discussed below).

McDougall has noted that his decades of experience with this starch-based, low-fat, no-animal food diet has been successful for a great number of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Some individuals also need to eliminate wheat and corn from their diet. Patients who have followed these dietary recommendations typically experience improvement in symptoms after 1 to 2 weeks and can typically stop or significantly reduce any medications they are taking.

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Comments

Good article Deborah, Good to see you mention John A. McDougall, MD, An excellent book. Here is a doctor who sees beyond the end of his nose, and actually mentioned allergy to a variety of foods as a causal factor of arthritis. Deepak Chopra mentioned in his books that every cell in the body gets replaced regularly. You'll have a complete new body every two years, and if you still suffer from the same diseases you had two years ago, you are still making the same mistakes in your diet. We are what we eat is very true, but it is very difficult for people to get out of the eating regime that makes them sick. My husband recommended a change of diet to a client with arthritis, and the client dismissed it, saying; I am on a good diet! I have a roast 4 times a week. Indoctrination is to blame for this. People think they have to have dairy for their bones. This is the biggest bit of nonsense, but the lay person believes it. Thank you for bringing possible cures to arthritis to the light!
Thank you for your comments, Mary. It's so true that people don't like to change their eating habits, even if it will make them feel better. I wonder what would happen if all the commercials and media about the "benefits" of dairy and meat were suddenly to switch to ones explaining the risks and dangers of such foods, and the other commercials disappeared? Of course, given the $$$$ and strength of the dairy and meat industry lobbies, such a switch is only a dream, unfortunately.

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