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Question

Rheumatoid arthritis: Can diet affect symptoms?

Can certain diets affect rheumatoid arthritis symptoms?

Updated: 12-10-2019

Answer

Answer Section

Plant-based diets rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fats, sodium and processed foods — basically a Mediterranean diet — might help reduce symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

But most research studies supporting this benefit were poorly designed, or depended on the test subjects' memories of what they had eaten, which could be faulty. And this type of diet often results in weight loss, which can independently reduce stress on joints and improve arthritis symptoms.

Some people have also tried eliminating certain foods from their diets — such as wheat, bacon or pork, milk, rye, beef, corn, or coffee. But the benefits of this practice have been difficult to quantify scientifically.

Avoiding certain foods that seem to worsen your symptoms may be worth trying, but don't exclude whole food groups or large numbers of foods without consulting a registered dietitian or your doctor.