Plant based diets for rheumatoid arthritis





👣Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most destructive forms of autoimmune disease - it causes painful inflammation, erosion, and progressive joint damage if untreated





👣Medications for rheumatoid arthritis have progressed an incredible amount in the past few decades, meaning it is now highly treatable. However these medications can often have side effects and do not always fully control symptoms - meaning looking at lifestyle factors as well makes total sense!



👣With all the research showing that diets high in plants can improve inflammation, it makes perfect sense that whole food plant based diets could also help rheumatoid arthritis as well as other autoimmune diseases 👣The basis for this is that diets high in plants are -very high in antioxidants and polyphenols (which all independently reduce inflammatory markers and joint inflammation) -low in saturated fats (linked to reduced inflammation) -low in added sugar and refined carbs (which are highly inflammatory as per my previous posts) -are linked with lower body weights (which reduces inflammatory cytokines) - high on fibre, which improves gut biome, also reducing systemic inflammation -are associated with lower risk of metabolic disease (which also has a link with inflammation) 👣One small trial of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) used a 4 week low fat vegan diet in people with moderate to severe RA.

Even over this short time period, people experienced a 16% reduction in CRP (inflammatory marker), a 10% reduction in rheumatoid factor (autoimmune marker), and a significant improvement in symptoms as well as weight. Limitations were obviously that it was a short small trial and did not have a control group (1) 👣Another larger trial published in the lancet, compared a control group of 27 patients who attended a health farm for 4 weeks, underwent an initial partial supervised fast for 7-10 days, then ate a gluten free vegan diet for 3 months, which changed to a vegetarian diet for the rest of the year.

They were compared to a control group of 26 people who stayed on their normal diet, but also attended the health farm for 4 weeks (2) 👣Those in the plant based group had significant improvements in all symptoms as well as all inflammatory markers, which continued over the whole year. The control group had an improvement in pain (presumably from the beneficial environment of the health farm ie reduced stress etc) but no other improvements 👣Other studies have shown that plant based diets are associated with reduced risk of many other autoimmune disease, including thyroid disease, and multiple sclerosis 👣They can also reduce side effects of medications, and improve overall health -theres nothing to lose!


References:

(1) https://scholar.google.com/scholar_lookup?author=J+McDougall&author=B+Bruce&author=G+Spiller&author=J+Westerdahl&author=M+McDougall+&publication_year=2002&title=Effects+of+a+very+low-fat,+vegan+diet+in+subjects+with+rheumatoid+arthritis&journal=J+Alternat+Complement+Med.&volume=8&pages=71-513wReply (2)http://scholar.google.com/scholar_lookup?author=J+Kjeldsen-Kragh&author=M+Haugen&author=CF+Borchgrevink&author=E+Laerum&author=M+Eek&author=P+Mowinkel+&publication_year=1991&title=Controlled+trial+of+fasting+and+one-year+vegetarian+diet+in+rheumatoid+arthritis&journal=Lancet.&volume=338&pages=899-902

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