There are over 100 forms of arthritis. The most common types are osteoarthritis (named the “wear and tear” arthritis), gout, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondilitis and psoriatic arthritis. There are also many forms of arthritis-related disorders, such as fibromylagia, systemic lupus erythematosus and scleroderma.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an arthritic condition that affects 2 to 3% of the population, with a greater incidence in women. The onset of RA is typically between the ages of 25 and 50. RA is an autoimmune disease that can have many contributing factors, such as environmental, hormonal, genetic history and a bacterial or viral infection.
Similar to most autoimmune conditions, the body starts to attack itself as an invader. Specifically, the immune system attacks the synnovial (fluid) lining of the joint structure in the body causing joints to swell and stiffen. The hands, neck, feet, elbows and knees are most commonly affected, but in severe cases, RA can also strike internal organs, such as the heart, lungs and lymph glands.
Other symptoms that can accompany RA are:
Nodules (in 30% of people)
While some experts claim that rheumatoid arthritis is chronic in nature, meaning it will last a lifetime, there are studies demonstrating that those diagnosed with RA can benefit immensely from the healing effects of proper diet, supplements and exercise.
Dietary approaches to RA
1. Eliminate potential food irritants such as dairy, gluten, wheat, chocolate and nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, eggplants and peppers). In fact, English researchers have demonstrated that up to one-third of all those diagnosed with RA could eliminate symptoms by eliminating potential food sensitivities. Visit the CP Nutrition section to design a dairy-free, wheat-free or gluten-free diet for you.
2. Eliminate coffee (caffeinated and decaffeinated). A study reported at the American College of Rheumatology’s annual meeting in 2001 showed that decaffeinated coffee could be a culprit in exacerbating RA symptoms. After following 300,000 women between 55 and 60, it was found that those who drank four or more cups of decaf coffee per day had a significant risk of increasing their chances of developing RA.
3. Eliminate inflammatory fats from you diet. This includes saturated fats found in full fat cheeses and red meats and trans fatty acids (a.k.a. partially hydrogenated fats) such as margarine.
4. Eliminate refined flour and sugar from your diet.
5. Include fresh fruit and vegetables in your daily diet. Loaded with minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals, fruits and vegetables have a powerful anti-inflammatory effect when eaten.
6. Include omega-3 food sources in your diet, such as omega-3 eggs, nuts, seeds and cold-water fish in moderation. In addition, take a fish oil supplement daily.
7. Introduce supplements that can be beneficial in reducing inflammation, such as fish oils, multivitamins and minerals and green food powders. For more information, visit the CP Autoimmune Vitamin Plan.
8. Light exercise, such as yoga, stretching and walking, can bring relief from RA. To design a gentle and personalized exercise program just for you, visit the CP Exercise section.