Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the tissue around the joints. A good diet can help ease arthritis symptoms. You will need to increase your intake of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, iron, and other nutrients to help your body fight the disease. You will need to eat a variety of healthy foods to keep your body strong. You will also need to avoid sugary, processed foods, as these can worsen symptoms.
Seeking Out Specific Foods to Target Symptoms
- You do not have to unnecessarily complicate a diet plan for rheumatoid arthritis. A healthy overall diet will help you get you the nutrients you need.
- Stick to a variety of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and healthy proteins.
Increase your iron intake. Many people with arthritis develop issues with anemia (the inability to incorporate iron into your blood) due to certain chronic diseases. Upping your iron intake can help offset anemia, so strive to get a variety of iron rich foods into your diet. If you decide to take an iron supplement, then you may also need to take a stool softener because iron supplements can cause constipation. The following foods are rich in iron:
- Dark green vegetables such as spinach and kale
- Red meat
- Haricot beans
- Low-fat dairy products such as low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese can be a great source of calcium.
- Calcium-enriched milks, including non-dairy milks like soy milk, can be an excellent source of calcium.
- Fish eaten with the bones still intact, like sardines, can also help you get more calcium. In addition to providing calcium, you can also get more Omega-3 fatty acids with such fish.
- Osteoporosis of the hip or spine is common in arthritis.
- Brown rice
- Cooked and dry fruits
- Cooked vegetables, such as artichoke, broccoli, chards, asparagus, collards, sweet potatoes, and spinach
- If you want to try supplements, make an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor may want to run blood tests to see if supplements would help you.
- You should also ask your doctor any questions you have about when and how to take dietary supplements.
- You may want to take fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, or iron supplements.
Eating a Variety of Healthy Foods
- Strive to have at least 1 1/2 to 2 cups of fruits for each meal, as well as 2 to 3 cups of vegetables.
- Another idea is to fill half of your plate with vegetables at each meal.
- The antioxidants in fruits and vegetables greatly help the immune system. As rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, plenty of fruits and vegetables can help counteract its effects.
- As beans are a good source of protein, try swapping out the meat in some meals for something like black beans. For example, have a black bean burrito for lunch instead of a chicken burrito. This is an excellent, low-fat healthy alternative.
- Fruits like raspberries, pears, apples, and oranges.
- Grains like whole wheat pasta, barley, oatmeal, and whole wheat bread.
- Legumes, like lentils, black beans, and split peas.
- Vegetables such as broccoli, artichokes, Brussels sprouts, and potatoes.
Avoiding Certain Foods
- Talk to your doctor about alcohol consumption for you. In some cases, you may need to eliminate alcohol altogether.
- On a 2,000 calorie a day diet, you should not have more than 20 grams (0.71 oz) of saturated fat. However, you may need less than that depending on your current health. Talk to your doctor about a safe level of saturated fat for you.
- Try to consume meats, cheeses, butter, and other foods loaded in saturated fat in moderation. Fast foods and processed foods tend to be high in saturated fat.