Being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can be both life-changing and frightening at the same time. You may feel grateful that you have something to fight against, but at the same time, you’re not quite sure how your life will change as a result of the diagnosis. Will you be able to exercise as often as you want? Will you need a cane or a walker to get around? Will you be able to eat the types of food that you enjoy?
Fortunately, since the 1980s, doctors and scientists have conducted numerous studies to determine exactly what causes RA and how to manage it. This research has resulted in numerous well-designed and statistically significant studies that provide evidence-based answers to the questions that you might have regarding diet and arthritis.
Knowledge is power. Having the information you need to make healthier choices can help you take control of your health and well-being. The following are some of the most compelling evidence-based answers to the most common questions that people with RA ask themselves and each other.
Will A Low-Fat, Plant-Based Diet Keep The Doctor Away?
One of the primary causes of RA is eating unhealthy foods. Although there is no way of knowing for sure, it is estimated that eating a lot of fast foods and highly processed snacks can increase your risk of getting the disease by several folds. What’s more, some studies suggest that individuals with a family history of the disease are more likely to develop it if they continue to eat in this way.
Many people with RA avoid eating fruits and vegetables because of their belief that these foods will increase their chances of getting the disease. In fact, several studies have shown that adhering to a low-fat, plant-based diet can help prevent or at least ameliorate the symptoms of RA. In general, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help reduce the inflammation that is characteristic of the disease. These foods provide your body with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients that help maintain good health.
What About The Effects Of Cooking On Food?
There is some evidence that cooking your food could increase the nutrients that you consume. Some studies show that the process of boiling foods can increase their bioavailability. When you eat food that has not been cooked, your body does not have to work as hard to absorb the nutrients in it because they are less likely to be damaged by heat. Even home ovens that are not used regularly or professionally can increase the digestibility of food.
If you want to increase your chances of absorbing nutrients from the food that you eat, then try avoiding overcooking or undercooking it. When food is cooked past the point where it is still appealing to the sense and can still be recognized as food, it has lost some of its ability to nourish you. This is why it’s best eaten freshly prepared or at least within a few days of cooking it. The older the food, the less nutrients it tends to contain, so you should avoid eating pre-packaged food products that are more than a few days old.
Does Alcohol Increase Your Chances Of Developing RA?
Although alcohol has numerous well-known health benefits, there is also evidence that it can contribute to inflammation and joint damage. Some studies suggest that alcohol consumption can increase your risk of RA by about 55%. This is probably because alcohol inhibits vitamin A function in the body. Vitamin A is important for maintaining a good immune system and for preventing the inflammation that is caused by numerous health problems including RA. It also aids in bone growth and repair. When your body does not get sufficient amounts of vitamin A, it tends to be less efficient at defending itself from health threats. So, if you want to keep your rheumatoid arthritis under control, then avoid alcohol.
Should I Eat Oatmeal Or Bread For Breakfast?
There is some evidence that eating oatmeal instead of bread could help reduce the incidence of RA. One of the reasons for this could be that oatmeal contains gluten, which can sometimes cause inflammation in people with the disease. As mentioned before, having RA is already enough of a health challenge. Gluten also causes inflammation in people with celiac disease, so it’s best to avoid it if you’re at all concerned about food allergies. Eating plenty of vegetables and fruits for breakfast can also help reduce the risk of RA. These foods contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help protect your body from damage and keep the disease at bay.
Which Type Of Meat I Should Avoid?
When it comes to meat, you should always aim to eat what is known as “clean” meats. These are meats that are free of toxins and additives. One of the best examples of a clean meat is fish. Studies have shown that consuming fish at least twice a week can help reduce the risk of developing RA by 35%. This is probably because fish contains the Omega-3 fatty acids that your body needs to function at its best. These fats improve the health of your skin and also help reduce systemic inflammation.
If you are unable to eat fish, then opt for another clean meat such as chicken or turkey. Beef tends to be less clean than chicken or turkey, so if you’re trying to avoid RA, then it’s best to stay away from this particular type of meat.
Will Exercise Help Me Combat Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Some studies suggest that regular exercise can help maintain a healthy weight, reduce systemic inflammation, increase bone mineral density, and reduce pain. In general, exercise promotes the health of your joints and also encourages your body to produce more anti-inflammatory compounds, such as interleukin-10 and prostaglandin E3. Prostaglandin E3 prevents the body’s response to inflammation and protects your joints from damage and disease. In fact, some studies have shown that regular exercise can help prevent and ameliorate the effects of rheumatoid arthritis. Regular exercise also helps to improve mental health, which is why everyone with RA should consider it a must for their overall well-being.
Unfortunately, not all individuals with RA are able to benefit from exercise. Studies suggest that as many as 80% of people with the disease may be excluded from participating in regular physical activity because of the joint pain that they experience. If you’re one of the many that this particular study excluded, then it may be difficult to combat arthritis with exercise alone. It’s always best to consult with your doctor about what would be the best course of action for you.
What Type Of Beverage Should I Drink?
When it comes to beverages, you need to be careful about what you drink. Several studies suggest that consuming alcohol in any form (be it neat or in a cocktail) can increase the risk of developing RA by 55%. This is probably because of the above-mentioned reasons; however, there may also be another, more sinister reason why alcohol could make you more prone to developing the disease. The chemical that is present in most alcoholic beverages is called acetaldehyde. This is a carcinogen that can cause damage to your joints and surrounding tissue. It may also cause or aggravate heart disease, diabetes, liver damage, and neurological problems.
If you want to keep your joints healthy and free of pain, then avoid all forms of alcohol, including beer, wine, and liquor. For people with RA, trying to stay away from acetaldehyde-rich drinks is a must if they want to reduce their risk of developing the disease.
If you need a drink, then stick to low- or non-carbonated fruit juices or freshly made tea, if you want to stay healthy. Even better, try out some of the new alternative alcoholic beverages that are available on the market. These types of beverages are made with organic grapes and produce less toxins when they are distilled. They also provide your body with some nutrients that are good for your health.