Nutrition to Help Ease Rheumatoid Arthritis


Laura Ramos

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Poor Diet

Some doctors believe what you eat could affect your rheumatoid arthritis. Take meat and gluten, for starters. Gluten is a protein found in foods such as wheat, rye and barley. In one study in the journal Arthritis Research & Therapy, a diet without meat and gluten helped reduce inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis. The diet also improved cholesterol levels, which can affect heart health in people with this condition.

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Most experts say it's too soon to know if eating a certain way could reduce symptoms.  Even though studies don't favor a specific special diet, eating healthy can help you stay in shape and maybe even feel better.

Tips for Healthy Eating

To eat right with rheumatoid arthritis:

  • Go fish for your protein. Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce inflammation in the body. Salmon, tuna, herring and mackerel are all high in omega-3s. And some studies have found that people who take fish oil supplements need less arthritis medicine.

  • Sip some green tea. Early research suggests that substances called polyphenols in green tea may help control inflammation and prevent joint damage caused by rheumatoid arthritis.

  • Avoid excess alcohol, which can cause problems if taken with some medicines for rheumatoid arthritis.

Pain-Free Cooking

What if painful joints make preparing food difficult? Try cooking in bigger batches, so you can reheat a meal the next day. Use utensils with padded handles, which are easier to grip. Or look for crock-pot recipes that are simple and only take one pot.

For more tips on healthy eating with rheumatoid arthritis, visit the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Web site at

Medical Reviewers: Ed Weisbart, MD; Olivia Walton Ziegler, MS, PA-C Last Review Date: Nov 1, 2012

© 2000-2015 Krames StayWell, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

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