If you’re one of the millions of people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, you may be interested in a new study that found a low-fat vegan diet can help improve symptoms. Researchers have found those with rheumatoid arthritis who follow a low-fat vegan diet have less pain and better function than those on a standard American diet. So if you’re looking for an alternative to medication or surgery, consider giving a vegan diet a try.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a common and debilitating condition that affects millions of people in the U.S. and around the world. This autoimmune disease occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the joints, causing inflammation, pain, stiffness, and swelling. Although many treatments are available to manage these symptoms, there is no known cure for rheumatoid arthritis.
While living with this chronic condition can be challenging, most people with rheumatoid arthritis can maintain an active lifestyle by finding ways to manage their joint pain and working closely with their healthcare providers.
Whether through medication, physical therapy, or lifestyle changes, it is possible to maintain a good quality of life despite having rheumatoid arthritis. With the right support and knowledge, anyone touched by this condition can remain resilient and find ways to thrive in spite of their diagnosis.
Doctors have long been aware of the link between diet and rheumatoid arthritis, and research over the years has consistently shown that certain foods can exacerbate the symptoms of this chronic condition. For example, a 2017 survey of 217 patients with arthritis found that nearly 20% said that sugary soda and sweets made their symptoms worse.
Despite this, there is no clear consensus on the best diet for individuals with RA. Some experts argue that reducing one’s intake of simple carbs or increasing one’s intake of fatty acids or antioxidants may help to ease joint pain. Others recommend following a low-FODMAP diet, as certain carbs are known to promote inflammation and disturb gut health.
A more recent study from 2021 wanted to explore the benefit of an easy-to-prescribe diet that doesn’t put a limit on calories. Researchers randomly assigned 44 women to one of two diet groups for 16 weeks. One diet was low-fat vegan, and the other didn’t use common rheumatoid arthritis triggers such as grains with gluten, nuts, citrus, and chocolate.
Half the women were assigned to put the trigger foods back one by one, keeping them in the diet if they didn’t cause symptoms, and the other half took a placebo. The study concluded that the women on the low-fat vegan diet saw their average number of days with swollen joints dip from 7 to just more than 3 and reported better overall symptoms.
Increasing Quality of Life
Ultimately, each individual will need to experiment to find what works best for them in terms of reducing arthritis discomfort and avoiding flare-ups. Whether through an anti-inflammatory diet or another nutritional strategy, it is clear that taking good care of one’s body can significantly improve the quality of life in persons with RA.
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