For a drug free natural treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, most people rely on dietary approaches. Studies suggest that nutritional approach for rheumatoid arthritis is not only effective in reducing the frequency and severity of arthritis pain and joint inflammation, healthy dietary choices significantly reduce the risk of joint deformities.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. The immune system of the body attacks the joint tissues, causing inflammation and pain. Your diet may play a role in triggering faulty immune response. Therefore, modifying the diet may help to suppress abnormal immune responses. Adding foods with anti-inflammatory properties helps to fight inflammation naturally.
Nutritional Approaches for Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis
A vegetarian diet is considered beneficial for alleviating the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. If you are not allergic to milk, a lactovegetarian diet can provide relief from the arthritis flare-ups. However, a vegan diet is recommended when sensitivity to cow’s milk is suspected to aggravate pain and inflammation. In some cases, in an effort to eliminate all possible allergens from the diet, a strict gluten-free vegan diet is recommended.
However, the vegetarian dietary approach for treating rheumatoid arthritis differs from person to person. Given the different types of food sensitivities, the exact components of a vegetarian diet vary. A typical vegetarian diet for rheumatoid arthritis patients contains fruits, vegetables, rice, millet, corn, buckwheat, nuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and soymilk.
In addition to alleviating the symptoms of arthritis and reducing the incidence of arthritis flare-ups, a vegetarian diet also helps to maintain a normal body mass index, lowers total cholesterol level and reduces the risk of developing heart diseases. Moreover, a low protein diet triggers favorable changes in the bacterial flora of the gut that help to reduce food sensitivities.
For best results, a vegetarian diet is preceded by a fast. During the short term modified fasting period, that lasts for about 7 to 10 days, the rheumatoid arthritis patient consumes only vegetable juice, tea and water. According to studies, rheumatoid arthritis patients experience significant improvement in joint pain and inflammation within four to five days during the fast.
Moreover, the symptoms of arthritis do not appear during the fast. Researchers speculate that by eliminating allergens from the body, fasting helps to prevent adverse immune reactions that induce inflammation.
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Diet Elimination Approach
As allergic reactions to certain foods are associated with rheumatoid arthritis flare-ups, identifying the specific allergens in the diet helps to ameliorate the symptoms of arthritis.
An elimination diet includes avoiding possible dietary allergens for several days and then gradually reintroducing them in the diet to observe their effect on the arthritis symptoms. Foods usually associated with rheumatoid arthritis flare-ups include wheat and other grains containing gluten, cow’s milk, nuts, corn and citrus fruits.
Vitamins and Minerals
Rheumatoid arthritis patients have a higher risk of experiencing deficiencies of folic acid, vitamins B6, B12, C, D and E, zinc, magnesium, selenium and calcium. While a balanced vegetarian diet contains these vitamins and minerals, a strict vegan diet may deprive the body of these essential nutrients. To prevent deficiency of vitamins and minerals, supplements are needed to enhance the nutritional status of rheumatoid arthritis patients.