High antioxidant foods like blueberries, ginger and green tea may help patients manage their rheumatoid arthritis better. [Photo: Bigstock]

The superfoods that can help fight arthritis

9 November, 2017

Natural Health News — Ginger, blueberries, olive oil and green tea are among the ‘superfoods’ that can help fight rheumatoid arthritis, according to new research.

Based on available research, scientists in India have produced a definitive list of foods that can help combat most of the symptoms of this condition such as pain and joint inflammation.

What you need to know

» Drawing on existing research, scientists in India have compiled a definitive list of foods that can help ease the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

» The list includes many foods which have come to be called ‘superfoods’ – such as blueberries, ginger, green tea and olive oil – because of their high antioxidant content.

The authors, writing in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition suggest incorporating these foods into the diet to support the management of this debilitating autoimmune disease.

“Regular consumption of specific dietary fibres, vegetables, fruits and spices, as well as the elimination of components that cause inflammation and damage, can help patients to manage the effects of rheumatoid arthritis,” says lead author Dr. Bhawna Gupta, from the Disease Biology Lab, School of Biotechnology, KIIT University, India. “Incorporating probiotics into the diet can also reduce the progression and symptoms of this disease.”

She continues, “Patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis should switch from omnivorous diets, drinking alcohol and smoking to Mediterranean, vegan, elemental or elimination diets, as advised by their doctor or dietician.”

A thorough examination

Various dietary plans for rheumatoid arthritis, such as vegan, 7-10 days fasting and Mediterranean, have long been recommended.

This study new – only the second overall assessment of diet and food in relation to rheumatoid arthritis – provides a very thorough evaluation of current scientific knowledge and makes a point of only reporting dietary interventions and specific foods that clearly show proven long-term effects.

Click to enlarge. Eating more of these foods could help fight rheumatoid arthritis. [Image: Khanna, S., Jaiswal, K.S., and Gupta, B. Front. Nutr. | doi: 10.3389/fnut.2017.00052]

Foods highlighted as reducing the progression and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis range from fruits such as dried plums, blueberries and pomegranates, to whole grains, the spices ginger and turmeric, as well as specific oils and teas (see graphic opposite).

These foods – which have recently come to be known as ‘superfoods’ – can provide a range of beneficial effects, such as lowering inflammatory cytokines (chemicals released by the immune system that can cause problems in rheumatoid arthritis patients), reducing joint stiffness and pain, as well as lowering oxidative stress – the ability of the body to counteract or detoxify harmful chemicals.

No harmful side effects

Rheumatoid arthritis causes pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints, severely impacting quality of life. It is difficult to detect the early onset of the disease and if undetected or misdiagnosed has a rapid rate of progression in the first few years.

The first line of treatment usually includes disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, but these can be expensive.

“Supporting disease management through food and diet does not pose any harmful side effects and is relatively cheap and easy,” Dr. Gupta explains.

“Doctors, physicians and dieticians can use our study to summarize current proven knowledge on the links between certain foods and rheumatoid arthritis. Knowing the nutritional and medicinal requirements of their patients they can then tailor this information for the betterment of their health.”