For people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, you know that the joint pain and body aches that characterize the disease can make daily life difficult. Advanced medications, such as disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, are making the illness more manageable than ever before, but an often overlooked component in your rheumatoid arthritis treatment plan could be your diet. In fact, a growing volume of research is showing that certain foods can play a role in easing pain and soreness. Here's the latest information on eating to beat RA.
Flaxseeds are rich in a plant-based form of omega-3s and might yield results for inflammation and joint pain that are similar to those from eating fatty fish or krill oil. "Flaxseed and flaxseed oil are rich in alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid that may be helpful for inflammatory diseases like arthritis," says Fabrizio Mancini, DC, a chiropractor and author of The Power of Self-Healing. To help your body get the most nutrients from flaxseeds for rheumatoid arthritis, use them ground rather than whole. "Sprinkle a few tablespoons on your cereal in the morning or include them in a smoothie," he suggests. "You can also use them in baked goods."
What gives curry powder its characteristic golden yellow color? It's turmeric root, used in a variety of Indian and Asian dishes. "One of the most healing plants in the world is the herb turmeric," says Dr. Mancini. "It contains an active compound called curcumin, which appears to have healing powers for a wide range of conditions, like arthritis. Taking curcumin may improve joint stiffness, swelling, and pain."
These trendy fruits have actually been cultivated since ancient times, but there's been a recent flurry of interest in their health benefits. Though pomegranate has not been adequately tested in humans as a treatement for RA. a recent study found that mice who received an extract of pomegranate in supplement form had less inflammation and less deterioration of their joints than mice that did not take the supplement. "Pomegranate juice has been touted for some time as an alternative treatment for arthritis," says Mancini. "While it is certainly no cure, there appears to be a real benefit in reducing inflammation, and that may translate into less pain for some arthritis patients."
Studies have long shown the anti-inflammatory activity of omega-3 fatty acids, like those found in cold-water fish such as salmon, as well as their possible role as a rheumatoid arthritis treatment. Krill oil, which comes from a tiny crustacean similar to shrimp, is a relatively new supplement that is similar to fish oil, but with a higher concentration of omega-3s. A recent study of 90 people, some with rheumatoid arthritis, found that taking 300 milligrams of krill oil daily reduced pain and stiffness and improved function.
Anecdotally, cherry juice has been used as a treatment for gout related pain for decades. Though sample sizes are small, studies are also revealing that this juice might help with other types of joint pain and inflammation as well, including that caused by rheumatoid arthritis. “Tart cherries have higher levels of anthocyanin, a phytonutrient and antioxidant, than sweet cherries and other fruits, making them power berries to reduce inflammation and pain, improve recovery time after strenuous activity, and possibly even aid in sleep,” Mancini says.
This spicy root can be ground up or shredded to make a tea or mixed into dishes for an interesting flavor — and certainly one of the tastiest rheumatoid arthritis treatments. As per Ayurvedic concepts ginger just has an anti-inflammatory action which might be beneficial to some people with joint pain related to rheumatoid arthritis. As per the Ayurvedic concepts dried ginger water intake regularly tends to relieve the symptoms of RA and other joint related pains
The benefits of green tea, which, unlike black tea, is made from unfermented leaves, have been touted for centuries, and studies have looked at its positive effects on health conditions, from dental cavities to cancer. Drinking it may also help ease rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. Of all the teas, the green variety has the highest concentration of powerful antioxidants called polyphenols, which give it inflammation-fighting strength, says Dr. Wei.