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What You Need To Know About Rheumatoid Arthritis Diet

Medically reviewed by Mae Charisse Antalan, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Aug 30, 2022

What You Need To Know About Rheumatoid Arthritis Diet

Rheumatoid arthritis is chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease that targets the joints. Besides taking medicines, experts believe it would be good to advocate for a supplemental “diet therapy.” Here’s what you need to know about the rheumatoid arthritis diet that some people are talking about. 

Rheumatoid Arthritis, An Overview

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, which means there’s a malfunction in the immune system. When someone has RA, that means their immune system “attacks” the joints, causing swelling or inflammation. 

RA is a long-term (chronic) condition that significantly affects a person’s quality of life. Not only does it increase morbidity, but it also reduces life expectancy. 

People who have rheumatoid arthritis often feel pain and stiffness in their joints. They might feel tired or weak, and even develop low-grade fever. 

There may be periods of remission where the patient feels fewer or no symptoms at all. But, there’s currently no cure for RA. 

However, experts say that a supplemental diet therapy might help improve the condition. 

Rheumatoid Arthritis Diet: Why Experts Believe It’s Important

Before we proceed, let’s have this quick reminder: rheumatoid arthritis diet doesn’t pertain to a specific diet or meal plan. It’s just the term people use to describe the food that people with RA can best eat to potentially improve their symptoms. 

But, how did experts arrive at the idea that a supplemental diet therapy might help? 

According to reports, there is increasing evidence of “altered microbiota” in the gut being responsible for the pathogenesis (manner of disease development) and disease progression in RA. Hence, it would be good for rheumatologists to consider supplemental diet therapy. 

Best Foods To Eat

What are the best foods to eat if you have rheumatoid arthritis? Please refer to the list included in the rheumatoid arthritis diet below:

Fruits and Vegetables

These are filled with antioxidants that can neutralize free radicals that trigger inflammation. Moreover, fruits and vegetables may help lower a marker for inflammation. The vegan diet, which mostly consists of fruits and vegetables, is reported to be beneficial for RA remission. 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids have been found to improve inflammation associated with RA. The improvement cannot be compared with that brought by medicines, but omega-3 fatty acids generally have no side effects. The Cretan Mediterranean Diet, which is high in Omega-3 (among other nutrients) appears to reduce inflammation and improve functions of the patient. Fatty fish is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. 

Whole grains

Whole grains help protect the heart, which seems to be more easily afflicted with diseases if you have RA. It is also so much better for the patient’s overall health, considering the alternative, which is refined grains, usually have added sugars. 

Nuts and Beans

Nuts can also be rich in antioxidants while beans are a great source of protein, which is excellent for muscle health. You see, patients with RA may become more vulnerable to muscle loss

Turmeric and Ginger

Some animal studies suggest that 200 mg or a mixture of turmeric and ginger per kg body weight can lower the signs and symptoms of RA2.  

Olive oil

Not only is it a healthy source of fat, but olive oil also appears to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain-relieving) properties.  

Probiotics and Prebiotics

Also called symbiotics, animal studies show that pro and prebiotics can improve the health conditions by reducing the levels of certain proinflammatory cytokines2.

Final Reminders

Again, please remember that each person is different. Besides RA, a patient may also have other underlying health issues that can affect their diet. Hence, if you want to make the most of your nutrition, it’s best to talk to your doctor. They can give you a more detailed nutritional plan to improve your rheumatoid arthritis and overall health.

Learn more about Healthy Eating here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Mae Charisse Antalan, MD

General Practitioner

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Aug 30, 2022

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