Although most experts are not yet ready to endorse major changes in diet, they are cautiously acknowledging that certain foods may affect painful joint inflammation, the hallmark of this chronic and sometimes crippling disease.
Does diet have any effect on rheumatoid arthritis? Not long ago, the leading rheumatology textbooks confidently dismissed the notion - if they considered it at all. However, thanks to medical scientists who have been researching the subject over the past decade, the textbooks are being revised.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder - a disease in which the immune system attacks the body's own tissues. The main target of this inflammatory assault is the synovium (the membrane lining the fibrous capsule that encloses a joint). The disease is unpredictable in that the frequency of episodes, the number of joints affected, and the severity of symptoms vary considerably from person to person.
Most people with RA have painfully tender joints - their fingers, wrists, knees, or feet may be stiff in the morning or after long periods of inactivity. Some patients find that they tire easily and feel vaguely ill.
Drug therapies for RA include high doses of aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which reduce the inflammation and ease joint pain. Patients whose symptoms fail to respond sufficiently to these medications may be switched to more powerful agents. But these drugs have side effects, which makes the notion of using diet to reduce RA's discomforts more appealing.
Can you recommend a nutritionist that specializes in diet and arthritis?
Should an allergist be consulted?
How long should a food be avoided to see if that food increases the symptoms?
Are there any experimental studies or research on diet in the area?
Can you provide a list of foods that are most likely to affect arthritis?