Skip to main content
take the reality check diet analysis take the reality check diet analysis


Learn how weight loss can decrease the effects of arthritis and help you live a better, more comfortable, life.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Diet

A healthy diet can play a role in minimizing a health condition and supporting a healthier lifestyle. So how can diet tie into joint strength? Reduce symptom severity with these rheumatoid arthritis diet guidelines!

Rheumatoid Arthritis Diet

Prominently noticed in heart disease and diabetes management, health and diet have a strong connection. So when it comes to further conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, how can diet tie into joint strength and health? Lessen symptom severity with these rheumatoid arthritis diet guidelines!

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Also recognized as RA, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder. An autoimmune disease is when the immune system starts to attack normally healthy cells - specific to rheumatoid arthritis, joints are affected. Stricken joints become inflamed and consequently cascade mild to severe symptoms of pain, stiffness and swelling. Dealing with such symptoms can interfere with normal day-to-day functions and lessen quality of life.

The ultimate treatment goal is to improve overall functioning by reducing associated inflammation and its connected symptoms. Treatment options may include medications, splints or offered surgeries if needed. Some individuals seek out natural remedies or look to diet options for RA management.

Is There a Rheumatoid Arthritis Diet?

An identified RA diet is solely unspecific, but rather rheumatoid arthritis and diet have a strong connection. Instead of a specific diet, there are a set of guidelines and considerations when using food as RA medicine, consuming less or more of food these items:

Consume Less of:

Refined Carbohydrates and Sweets
Refined carbs and sweets are simply white flours and sugars and the products created from them - white breads, pastas, cereals and pastries. These sort of products generally have no nutritional value and lack fiber. Low-fiber diets have been said to increase C-reactive protein, a substance produced in the liver that respond to inflammation.

Though sodium is a critical electrolyte, it may be harmful for individuals living with RA, particularly if prescribed a corticosteroid. The medication can cause the body to retain sodium more easily, thus causing individuals to become fluid overloaded and experience an increase in blood pressure.

Trans Fats
Trans fat is a fat to be used with caution. Its intake has not only been associated with heart disease, but can contribute to inflammation. Also identified as "hydrogenated oils" or simply "hydrogenation," trans fats are found in a wide variety of desserts, prepackaged items, and margarines.

Saturated Fats
Saturated fat sources can certainly fit into a healthy diet, as nutritious iron-rich beef and calcium-containing milk provides this type of fat. However, too much of it can also result in inflammation.

Eliminating gluten is critical for people diagnosed with Celiac disease. Its consumption can cascade a series of unpleasant and damaging side effects, including inflammation within the joints.

Moderate intake of alcohol can actually reduce arthritic risk related to its anti-inflammatory properties. However, it all boils down to the word moderation, as too much may trigger inflammation. Alcohol also has interactions with several medications prescribed for those living with arthritis, consequently increasing the risk of l liver damage and stomach bleeds and ulcers.

Also known as mono-sodium glutamate, MSG is a flavor-enhancer commonly found in Chinese dishes and cuisines. Although effects of MSG vary among individuals, its use may intensify arthritic symptoms.

This artificial sweetener is a neurotoxin, a harmful substance that is damaging and destructing to nerve cells. Also recognized as Nutra-Sweet and Equal, the intake of aspartame may lead to abdominal discomfort and trigger an inflammatory response. Sensitivities to aspartame vary, but the body may attack it when consumed, similar to gluten and Celiac disease.

Consume More of:

Whole Grains
Unlike refined grains, whole grains provide the body dietary fiber which may reduce inflammation. Additionally, research has shown people living with RA generally have low levels of selenium, a mineral found in whole grain wheat products. Choose oats, whole wheat, corn and popcorn over refined, processed goods such as white breads, pastries, and desserts.

Fresh Produce
Nutritious fruits and vegetables are highly valuable in all aspects of health, including rheumatoid arthritis. Vitamins A (found in carrots and sweet potatoes), C (well-known in citrus fruits) and K (mostly located in dark green, leafy vegetables) display anti-inflammatory properties. Vitamin C also has a vital role in the production of collagen, ultimately encouraging stronger joints.

Fatty Fish
Fatty fish has the highest content of omega-3 fatty acids, a polyunsaturated fat with powerful anti-inflammatory effects on the body. Anchovy, tuna, herring, rainbow trout, and halibut are just a few significant sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3's can also be found in canola oil, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, walnuts and walnut oil, and pumpkin seeds.

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) is considered to be a "healthy" fat which may reduce inflammation. EVOO contains oleocanthal, an inflammation-blocking compound and works similar to the medication known as NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug). Replace saturated and trans fat (butter and margarine) with EVOO when cooking.

Sydney Lappe's Photo
Written By Sydney Lappe, MS, RDN. Published on November 07, 2012. Updated on April 27, 2017.


Follow @bistroMD

Theme picker

as seen on...
Dr Phil
Lifetime Network
The Biggest Loser
The Doctors