According to the article, “Clinical Review of Dietary Therapy For Rheumatoid Arthritis”, published in the British Journal of Rheumatology (1993;32:507-514) changes in diet may benefit patients with rheumatoid arthritis. The authors of the study propose that improving the diet is extremely safe and may improve symptoms and reduce medication needs without any side-effects.
One of the mechanisms suggested for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), is that the immune system responds to microorganisms in the intestine. Microbial infestation in the intestine causes the body to create antigens, which in turn may cause inflammation in the joints. Other sources of joint inflammation may be bacterial proteolytic enzymes or degradation products; these are absorbed through the damaged intestinal lining. It is possible that the anti-inflammatory drugs make the intestinal permeability worse. Addition of fish oil to the diet seems to have a powerful anti-inflammatory effect. The authors suggest that an elimination diet may also produce results.
An article appearing in The Lancet (January 4, 1992;339:68-69), reports that a diet containing a lot of raw foods without grains or dairy products may be beneficial to RA patients. In another study 75% of the patients improved their RA by using a diet that excluded substances like cereals and/or dairy products—foods considered to be an “assault” to the patient, or foods to which patients are often sensitive to. The diet provided a significant benefit for all tested indices in 36 patients (78%). Of the 36 responders, 17 were clearly improved and 19 were in complete remission for 1 to 5 years. Eight of these 19 patients stopped all medications and no relapse occurred.
A study published in the journal Rheumatology (2001;40:1175-1179) demonstrated that a vegan diet that was also gluten-free was beneficial to RA patients. Nine (40.5%) of the subjects in the vegan, gluten-free group showed improvement (as measured by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) 20 improvement criteria). Only one patient in the non-vegan group showed such improvement. The immunoglobulin G antibody levels against gliadin and beta-lactoglobulin decreased in the responder subgroup in the vegan diet-treated patients, but not in the group without the dietary changes.
Fasting, followed by a vegan diet seems to benefit RA patients. In a study entitled: “Controlled Trial of Fasting and One Year Vegetarian Diet in Rheumatoid Arthritis”, (Kjeldsen-Kragh, Jens, et al, The Lancet, October 12, 1991;338:899-902), patients who fasted then followed up with a vegan diet enjoyed a reduction in pain.
Fresh produce in general seems to be of benefit. In published research, [“Lower Arthritis Risk With Higher Fruit, Vegetable, and Vitamin C Intake,” Walsh N, Family Practice News (May 15, 2003:22)], the higher the intake of fresh produce, the lower the incidence of RA.
Changing the diet is a very low-risk way of bringing RA under control. A number of studies show the benefit of improving the diet. Improving the diet sometimes produces miraculous results.