Rheumatoid Arthritis an Anti-Inflammatory Diet Can Help

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December 13, 2018
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rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis (or RA) is an autoimmune and chronic inflammatory disorder that can cause serious joint pain and damage throughout your body. The symptoms of RA, which can vary from mild to severe, typically occur on both sides of the body and can include: joint swelling, joint stiffness, joint pain, and loss of joint function.

In the main type of RA – Seropositive RA – the symptoms may also include fever, weight loss, and fatigue. Although less common, some people find that the inflammation isn’t confined to their joints and can experience discomfort in their eyes, salivary glands, kidneys, lungs, heart, nerves, and blood vessels.

RA is a long term and chronic illness with periods of flares (increased symptoms) and remission (absence of symptoms).

There is currently no cure for rheumatoid arthritis according to typical Western medicine.

As with many autoimmune diseases, early intervention is important and can be very helpful in coming up with a treatment plan. If you suspect that you may have RA, make an appointment with your healthcare practitioner. A series of tests (usually performed by a rheumatologist) will determine whether or not you have this illness.

What are the causes of RA?

There is no one particular known cause of RA, but certain characteristics may predispose people to this inflammatory illness. You are more likely to develop RA if you:

  • Are a woman
  • Are obese
  • Smoke
  • A family history of RA
  • Contracted Epstein-Barr or mono in the past
  • Suffered joint or ligament damage
  • Had periodontal disease
  • Suffered any trauma that remained with you mentally ie. sudden death of a loved one, sudden loss of job, overwhelming amount of stress due to life/work imbalance, etc.

Now, most healthcare practitioners will recommend medication (typically in the form of NSAIDS – non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, and acetaminophen) to people who have received this diagnosis. However, more and more research is being shown to support alternatives to drug therapy for treating RA (whether on their own, or in addition to medication). This is positive news for a wide variety of reasons. 

Rheumatologists are now recommending the following to assist with the treatment of RA:

  • Exercise – (gentle to start, with stretching and yoga being at the top of the list). Exercise helps to regain strength, flexibility, and mobility of the joints and muscles.

 

  • Sleep – getting enough rest is crucial to a successful treatment plan. Especially during a flare up, sleep can help our body cope with pain, reduce inflammation, and feel less fatigued.

 

  • Heat and Cold therapy – alternating between an ice pack and a heating pad can help reduce swelling. Heat therapy increases blood flow to the affected area, which stimulates healing, while ice therapy helps to reduce inflammation.

 

  • Change in diet (yay!) This is where we come in, as Ki’s Kitchen specializes in preparing delicious anti-inflammatory foods for you and your family.

 

Rheumatoid Arthritis and Food

 As we’ve discussed before, an anti-inflammatory diet includes lots of omega 3 fatty acids, which can be found in any of the following foods:

  • Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, for those who eat animal products)
  • Flax seeds, chia seeds and hulled hemp hearts
  • Walnuts
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Algal oil (a type of algae)
  • Perilla oil

Your healthcare practitioner may suggest an omega 3 supplement if he/she feels that you aren’t getting enough through your diet, but we love to top fruits, salads, smoothies, and many other dishes with a sprinkling of nuts and seeds daily at every meal.

Other foods that are known for their anti-inflammatory properties are those that contain antioxidants (like vitamins A, C, and E, as well as the mineral selenium). Foods high in antioxidants are:

  • Berries (blueberries, cranberries, goji berries, and strawberries)
  • Dark chocolate
  • Spinach
  • Kidney beans
  • Artichokes
  • Pecans
  • Whole plant based foods high in magnesium

Let’s not forget the super powers of – 

  • Turmeric (don’t forget to add some black pepper and a good fat when consuming)
  • Ginger (use in equivalent amounts to turmeric)
  • Boswellia Serrata/Frankincense
  • Ashwagandha
  • Ceylon or Saigon Cinnamon
  • Thyme

Other foods that may be helpful to consume are those containing lots of fiber.

Fiber may help reduce some inflammatory responses in the body, so up your intake of fresh fruit, vegetables, and healthy, whole grains.

*Green matcha tea is known to be a powerful antioxidant.

As you can probably imagine, there are many foods that can help reduce the symptoms of RA, and there are just as many that can hinder. These foods are known as “trigger” foods. They actually cause inflammation in the body and therefore increase the physical symptoms that you feel.

Therefore, it is recommended to avoid

  • Processed foods
  • Foods containing refined flours and sugars
  • Trans fats
  • Saturated fats
  • Dairy products
  • Red meat

If you, or someone you know, has RA and is looking to give your immune system a boost, reach out to me. No one should suffer unnecessarily with this illness, and I would love to help.


Thank you so much for visiting! I hope you have found some valuable information, if so, I’d love to hear about it!

Please feel free to share this post with anyone who might benefit, and comments are always welcome!

Follow us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/kitchenki or Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/kis_kitchen for daily health tips on how to #feedyourjoy 

From our kitchen to yours,

sending you love + gratitude,

Kiran 

 

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