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Managing Rheumatoid Arthritis with Diet

Managing Rheumatoid Arthritis with Diet

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic condition that occurs when your immune system attacks your joints, causing inflammation and pain. Rheumatoid arthritis is a progressive disease. If left untreated, RA can result in bone and cartilage damage leading to loss of function. Having a personalised rheumatoid arthritis treatment is important to improve physical function and prevent further damage.

Along with other types of arthritis, there is no cure for RA; but a suitable diet, alongside medications and lifestyle changes, can help relieve its symptoms. Generally, an RA-friendly diet will have the following:

Foods to Eat

  1. Fruits and Vegetables

    Fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants that help the body neutralize unstable molecules called free radicals that may trigger inflammation and damage cells. They also contain polyphenols, vitamins and minerals that help in lowering C-reactive protein (CRP), which increases when inflammation is found in the body.

    Add different types of fresh or frozen fruits into your daily diet as well. Citrus fruits such as grapefruits, oranges and limes are loaded with vitamin C that aids in managing inflammatory arthritis and maintaining healthy joints. Choose a colourful variety of fruits and veggies like blueberries, cherries, broccoli, spinach and kale to get more antioxidants.

  2. Whole Grains

    Whole grains like oats, whole wheat, brown rice and quinoa have plenty of filling fibre that can lower the level of CRP in the blood and help you maintain a healthy weight. Whole grains contain higher fibre content and nutrients than refined grains, making it a better option for facilitating smooth bowel movements.

  3. Fatty fish

    Some types of fish, including salmon, tuna, scallops, sardines, anchovies and other cold-water fishes, are good sources of inflammation-fighting, omega-3 fatty acids. A healthy balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is necessary for the body.

  4. Olive Oil

    Aside from its monounsaturated fats, olive oil is also rich in oleocanthal, which reduces inflammation. Oleocanthal has properties similar to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen that reduce pain sensitivity.

  5. Peas and Beans

    Black, garbanzo, red kidney beans, black-eyed peas and other legumes are an excellent source of protein, which is good for muscular health. Peas and beans are beneficial for RA patients since they are prone to muscle loss. They are also rich in antioxidants, folic acid, magnesium, iron, zinc and potassium.

  6. Nuts

    Pine nuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, almonds and other nuts contain monounsaturated fats and other important nutrients. Walnuts are ideal for RA patients because they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Several studies have also found the beneficial role of nuts in keeping inflammation under control.

Foods to Avoid

Avoid saturated fats like red meats, dairy products, and fried and grilled foods, as well as processed carbohydrates like white flour and white sugar. Your rheumatologist in Singapore may also advise reducing the intake of salt and alcohol.

Your Singapore rheumatologist will be able to help you craft a suitable diet plan that suits your other treatments. A/Prof Leong Keng Hong provides effective diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic diseases in Singapore. For more information, call us at 6472 4337 today.