Researchers Identify Dozens Of Foods Able To Relieve Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms

Researchers identified 33 foods proven to relieve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, a debilitating autoimmune disease. Rheumatoid arthritis affects approximately 1.3 million American adults, according to the National Institute of Health. Researchers from the Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT) in Bhubaneswar, India, analyzed data from existing research. Their goal was to identify foods that could help alleviate the suffering of the millions of people living with this disease. They reported that anti-rheumatic drugs are both expensive and often accompanied by serious side effects. The team was looking for science-based evidence that could provide doctors with insight into how diet changes can help treat the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

The researchers published their analysis of existing research in the medical journal Frontiers in Nutrition. The report lists foods that the researchers say have long-term benefits to rheumatoid arthritis patients. Dr. Bhawna Gupta, Shweta Khanna and Kumar Sagar Jaiswal at KIIT's Disease Biology Lab narrowed down lists of potentially helpful foods. Each food on the final list slows the progression of rheumatoid arthritis, they say. Their final list was refined to only include foods that had clear, scientifically proven, long-term benefits.

"Supporting disease management through food and diet does not pose any harmful side effects and is relatively cheap and easy," Dr. Gupta said, according to Medical News Today.

The authors explained that the identified foods could easily be incorporated into the diets of rheumatoid arthritis sufferers from any social or economic group.

The researchers reported that the ideal meal for a rheumatoid arthritis patient would always include raw or moderately cooked vegetables, including legumes. They said that turmeric and ginger should be added to meals for their anti-inflammatory effect. They stressed the importance of choosing seasonal fruits. They added that supplementation with vitamin D, cod liver oil, and other vitamins can also help manage the disease.

Rheumatoid arthritis sufferer holding an apple.
Apples have proven benefits for patients with rheumatoid arthritis, researchers say. [Image by Hriana/Shutterstock]

Fruits that are reportedly proven to relieve long-term suffering in affected people are dried plums, grapefruit, grapes, blueberries, pomegranate, mango, bananas, and apples. Legumes that are reportedly proven to help are black soybean and black gram. Meals should include whole oatmeal, whole wheat bread, whole flattened rice, corn, rye, barley, millets, sorghum, or canary seed. Ginger and turmeric should be included in meals daily. Herbs that should be incorporated into the diet are sallaki and ashwagandha. Oils that benefit rheumatoid arthritis patients are olive oil and fish oil. Borage seed oil in an encapsulated form is also important. Other foods that were identified are yogurt, curd, green tea, and basil tea, which is also known as tulsi tea.

As a general rule, rheumatoid arthritis patients benefit greatly from switching to Mediterranean, vegan, elemental, or elimination diets, the researchers said. They also explained that geography and weather conditions can alter each person's unique dietary needs, so patients must also be aware of their own nutritional requirements, other food-related disease concerns, and allergies.

"We believe that one should promulgate diet therapy for RA patients. Besides the regular DMARDs and anti-TNFs that are provided for effective cure of severe RA, patients should be motivated to change their eating habits. We should work to educate and capacitate them with the benefits of eating more vegetarian/vegan diets, eliminate potentially allergic food components, and introduce more poly unsaturated fatty acid/oleic acid/synbiotics in their diet plans," the researchers wrote.

They stressed that dietary interventions can delay the development of rheumatoid arthritis and that doctors should make it clear that these easy diet changes can greatly improve their patients' long-term quality of life.

[Featured Image by Unguryanu/Shutterstock]