Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), and the role nutrition plays in creating positive outcomes for it, is unique and important.
RA differs from the most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis. Because your own immune system mistakenly attacks the lining of your joints, inflammation is a key component to RA.
An anti inflammatory diet is extra important for those living with rheumatoid arthritis.
Patients with RA are considered to be at nutritional risk for many reasons. One cause of poor nutritional status in this patient population is thought to be the result of the weight loss and cachexia linked to cytokine production.(ref 3)
In patients experiencing chronic inflammation the production of cytokines, such as interleukin-1 and tumor necrosis factor, increases resting metabolic rate and protein breakdown. – Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center
A nutritious diet is foundational to good health. Even if you’re not struggling to maintain a healthy weight, healthy foods play a key role in managing your rheumatoid arthritis and overall well-being.
Consider placing the following seven foods on your shopping list.
Seven Anti Inflammatory Foods For Rheumatoid Arthritis
Olive You From My Head Tomatoes
Vegetables are nutritional power houses. They should be the cornerstone of your meals. It’s the one type of food that nutritionists will say, “The more, the better!”.
Adding 2-3 cups to each meal is ideal. Fresh, raw vegetables contain the highest levels of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Frozen and canned are second and third best, respectively.
While just about all vegetables are healthy for you, the dark, leafy, green veggies give you the most bang for your buck. Think kale, swiss chard, dark lettuces, broccoli and spinach.
Keep in mind that you will want to eat “real” vegetables. Supplements don’t count.
It is best to eat your fruits and vegetables from whole foods. Popping a pill — such as taking a beta-carotene supplement — does not do the trick.
Fresh and frozen vegetables offer a combination of many health benefits that you will not find in a pill. So, remember to chew!! –Lisa Young PH.D., Nutritionist, Author, NYU Professor
Like veggies, fruits are antioxidant and anti inflammatory superstars. Keep in mind that fruits naturally have a higher sugar content.
You’ll want to keep an eye on how much fruit you eat to avoid too much sugar. Aim for about 1-2 cups daily. Brightly colored fruits are best. Think blueberries, strawberries, oranges and purple grapes.
Remember that eating a variety of fruits (and veggies!) is best since no single fruit contains all the necessary vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
A diet rich in vegetables and fruits can lower blood pressure, reduce risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, lower risk of eye and digestive problems, and have a positive effect upon blood sugar which can help keep appetite in check. –Harvard T.H. Chan, School of Public Health
Fish Is Your Friend
Fish contain healthy fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are notorious for their anti inflammatory properties.
Additionally, they have cardiovascular benefits and are helpful in heart health, and safe blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Salmon, sardines, tuna and anchovies all contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
Be careful to not eat too much bottom-dwelling fish with high levels of mercury, such as swordfish. While fish is best, not everyone enjoys the taste. An omega-3 supplement provides health benefits as well.
The American Heart Association recommends eating fish (particularly fatty fish) at least two times (two servings) a week.
Each serving is 3.5 ounce cooked, or about ¾ cup of flaked fish. Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna are high in omega-3 fatty acids. –American Heart Association
Like fish, nuts and seeds are full of healthy fats. In this case, monounsaturated fats are the benefit as well as protein and fiber.
Monounsaturated fats are known to fight inflammation. Walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios, and almonds are excellent sources. About a handful per day is recommended.
Eating nuts as part of a healthy diet may be good for your heart. Nuts contain unsaturated fatty acids and other nutrients.
And they’re a great snack food — inexpensive, easy to store and easy to pack when you’re on the go. –The Mayo Clinic
Oils Well That Ends Well
Again, we’re talking healthy fats. Let’s focus on olive oil.
Known for it’s superb anti inflammatory properties, olive oil is a versatile ingredient that can be drizzled on salads, used as a marinade for fish or poultry, drizzled over vegetables, and used as a substitute for butter or margarine.
Olive oil contains heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, antioxidants and oleocanthal, a compound that can lower inflammation and pain. –Arthritis Foundation
Purchase extra virgin olive oil if you’re able to. It’s less refined and retains more nutritional value.
Beans, Beans, The Magical Fruit
Packed with antioxidants, fiber and minerals, beans are an excellent addition to your plate. They contain similar levels of antioxidants as green tea, blueberries, and turmeric, foods know for their high antioxidant levels.
Time to give beans some love. Nutritionists recommend adults consume about three cups weekly. Beans are one reason to visit the center aisles of your grocery store.
Just skip the processed cookies and crackers! They’re inexpensive and versatile. Add them to soups, chilis, dips, burritos, or as a side dish.
Have you heard about red wine and the French’s longevity? It turns out that an ingredient found in wine, called resveratrol, might prevent the DNA damage that leads to aging.
Some beans have resveratrol in amounts comparable to wine. Black beans and lentils are among the highest. -Alan Christianson, Arizona-based naturopathic medical doctor
Everyone’s Entitled To Their Own Onion
Those pungent onions are nutritional wonders. They are high in vitamin C, contain folic acid, fiber, calcium, and iron. Onions contain quercetin, a plant flavonoid that’s high in antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties.
A daily serving of onion (about a 1/2 cup) is recommended. While raw onions contain the highest nutritional value, sautéed are still great for you.
Some scientists believe the components in onions and garlic called allyl sulfides and bioflavonoids may be key to the research observations of generally lower incidence of cancer and heart disease in people who consume large amounts of garlic and onions, compared with those who eat less. -Leo M.D., Foundation for Integrated Medicine
Food is medicine. It’s worthwhile to eat a variety of healthy foods each week. Your body will thank you for it.
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