On Tuesday, March 18, the BBC of England reported a study from the Karolinska suggesting that Rheumatoid Arthritis sufferers should pay special attention their heart health, and two recent studies offer suggestions on what may help.
What's the connection between heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis? According to the BBC report, heart attacks and strokes are among the leading causes of death for rheumatoid arthritis sufferers, as the inflammation caused by the disease affects the arteries -- which are the big vessels that carry blood throughout the body.
The Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, suggesting that this risk could be reduced through a diet excluding meat, dairy and gluten - a sticky protein most often associated with wheat, but that can also be found in rye and barley (primarily found in food, gluten is also used in some everyday products such as stamp and envelope adhesive, medicines and vitamins).
Vegan Diet Study Results
The researchers put 38 volunteers on a vegan diet (they drank sesame milk for calcium) and 28 other volunteers on a healthy diet that included meat and dairy.
According to the BBC report, "Those on the vegan diet showed a decrease in the total level of cholesterol and specifically a reduction in the amount of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as "bad cholesterol". In contrast, those on the non-vegan diet showed no significant variations in these levels. The vegan volunteers also had a lower Body Mass Index (BMI) at the end of the 12 month period, while the control group remained the same."
You may not want to run out and become a vegan, though. The Arthritis Research Campaign, a British organziation, warns that "A vegan diet may be helpful in reducing cholesterol, but it is difficult to get enough of some important nutrients on a vegan diet."
There have been many diet suggestions for rheumatoid arthritis sufferers and those that seem to help most have anti-inflammatory.
Our expert, Christine Miller wrote about the Mediterrean diet, which has been noted for anti-inflammatory properties.
But RA sufferers should still talk to their doctors about changing their diets to address their symptoms or to aid their regular treatment.
Dr. Mark Borigini, for example, reminds us that no diet can replace standard rheumatoid arthritis treatment right now.
Have questions? Take this information and ask your doctor what may work best for you.
Find more information on preventing and managing heart disease:
Six Basic Steps to a Healthier Heart
Published On: March 18, 2008