Healthy foods that help you reduce rheumatism
Arthritis is a disease which influences muscles, joints and connective tissue and has many different forms. The most common symptoms are pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints and in severe cases even deformity of the joints. We still know little about its cause. Some forms of arthritis are categorised as an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks its own cells, causing the symptoms.
Rheumatic patients often use strong medication to keep their symptoms under control. In addition, a healthy lifestyle affects the course of the disease. There are indications that your diet can have an effect on reducing rheumatic complaints. However, there has been no conclusive evidence of this and the opinions of experts are divided. The Arthritis Foundation argues that little is known about the effect of a person’s diet on arthritis, but doctors like Dr Gert Schuitemaker believe that rheumatic complaints are not a local problem but caused by a disturbance in the whole body, and therefore nutrition plays a role in the process. Additional research is necessary to confirm that certain nutrients or diets can reduce the symptoms of arthritis.
Guidelines for a healthy diet in case of rheumatism
A healthy and varied diet is important for everyone, but especially if you have a rheumatic disease. The RA fund recommends eating according to the food pyramid. This will give you all the nutrients you need, and if you also get plenty of exercises, you will be able to keep your weight stable. Besides, doctors are increasingly using natural medicine, in addition to standard therapies.
Drs. Tisscher has been using nutritional therapy on his patients in his practice in the last years and with good results. Through a nutritional diet observation of several weeks, the patient accurately records what he eats and how he feels, this way a personal nutrition and lifestyle advice can be drawn. Rheumatic problems are often reduced this way.
General guidelines for nutrition in rheumatic diseases
The best diet for you is very personal. It partly depends on the symptoms you have, your lifestyle and if you have for example a shortage of certain nutrients. In general, the following guidelines are recommended for rheumatic disease.
– Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, preferably at every meal. Vegetable juices and veggie smoothies are healthy. These foods contain many healthy nutrients such as fibre, protein, iron and vitamins. It is quite frequent for patients to have a deficiency of vitamin A, B, D, calcium and folic acid because of the rheumatism medication. In addition, vitamin C and D may have a positive effect on the course of arthritis.
– Because the risk of being overweight with rheumatism is quite high and this can worsen the symptoms, you should opt for good fats in your diet. There is an important distinction between good and bad fats. The good fats are found for example in oily fish, nuts, butter, coconut oil and olive oil. Avoid processed foods like cookies, crackers and cakes. These bad fats contain trans fats.
– Make sure you get enough vitamin D. For example by eating fatty fish several times per week and by going outside for a bit every day. Your body produces vitamin D in sunlight. Although there is insufficient proof, there is evidence that vitamin D has a beneficial effect on inflammatory rheumatic diseases.
– Eat plenty of foods with a high content of antioxidants, such as brightly coloured greens and vegetables, green tea and extra dark chocolate. Antioxidants inhibit the formation of harmful substances in the body that may play a role in the pathogenesis of RA.
– Drink enough, in order to support the kidneys to remove waste from the body. Drink mainly water, herbal teas and freshly squeezed vegetable juices. When immune reactions occur in the body, they always produce waste. The kidneys ensure that this is rapidly removed from the body, so it can do no harm.
Do you have a rheumatic disease and do you have doubts about your diet?
Talk to your doctor, rheumatologist or ask a dietitian for advice.
Sources Book: Joints and nutrition – Dr Gert E. Schuitemaker