Rheumatoid arthritis is a painful inflammatory condition which affects the joints and is a condition that the affected are constantly on the look out for, for a solution. Researchers have tried to find the connection between this debilitating condition and food to find a school of solutions to keep RA under remission.
And these findings can help the 24.5 million people affected by Arthritis in India (as per 2015 data). The middle aged category of people are far more prone to risk of this painful condition and women 2 and a half times more than men.
Let’s see what light research has spread to bring smiles to those affected by RA.
– One has to do everything within one’s reach to reduce the inflammation that mainly affects the joints. The first step is to keep processed foods well away where no wind and even blow it down your path. Processed food has sugar and salt in excess but what is even more detrimental is the fact that it has a high amount of Omega 6 fats that throws the ratio of Omega 3:6 completely out of balance.
Foods containing Omega 3 are fewer in number so one way of keeping a healthy ratio between 3 and 6 is to reduce the consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and trans fats. Processed foods will hurtle you in just the opposite direction that benefits you.
– RA is a systemic disease which means that it affects the whole body. RA increases the risk of cardio related diseases and hence its important to keep blood pressure down and the heart healthy. The rules are simple and no different. Avoid processed foods, moderate the use of salt and minimise the use of sugar.
– It is best not to indulge in fat diets or elimination diets. RA does pose a threat of deficiencies of several nutrients like Folic acid Vitamin C vitamin D vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12, also calcium magnesium Selenium and Zinc. In a bid to lose weight there maybe elimination of certain food groups as is often seen in New Age diets: example, minimising carbs or eliminating dairy or worse still, logging off fruits. Such practices are best avoided unless specific customisation of one’s diet under the supervision of a professional does reveal benefits of elimination of certain food groups. Example, elimination of gluten in celiac disease or elimination of dairy in the face of a visible intolerance to dairy.
– As for your diet, include a lot of fruits and veggies. The organic culture won’t hurt, it reduces your body’s exposure to harmful pesticides and chemicals. The body doesn’t have to battle what it need not fight. Moderating the use of whole grains to ensure your bounty of complex vitamins, moderating the use of protein to ensure tissue repair and regeneration and moderating the amount of fats to ensure lubrication and a harness over insulin spikes is a good initial plan to adapt.
– The kind of fats is a big question. Olive oil and coconut oil are both anti inflammatory in nature. Olive oil contains a compound “oleocanthal” that blocks inflammarion causing enzymes while coconut oil is found to have polyphenols that reduce swelling and other inflammatpry markers.
Don’t take nutritional deficiencies lightly. Keeping your nutrient supply happy will keep this painful condition under wraps with a lower degree of inflammation when it does happen.
Eat plenty of the following:
Dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, dried legumes, chickpeas, beans, lentils, citrus fruits, seeds, nuts moderate portions of dairy, whole grains like millets rice oatmeal, whole wheat, bananas, lean meat of poultry, fish, a variety of vegetables, fish, avocados and asparagus. Moderate amounts of turkey, beef and pork will stack you up on selenium.
The above must find a permanent address in your shopping list. But considering the state of our environment, the reducing top soil and compromises in farm crops, nutrient sufficiency must be carefully monitored and any deficiency must be supplemented under the supervision of an expert.
Body challenges are inevitable. How we cope with them naturally and proactively is important. RA is a growing demon but it is up to us to keep the underlying inflammation at a minimum. Our taste buds and hormones may play havoc on our cravings but finally it’s all about the habits we create. That’s what decides how we eat and live tomorrow.
Anupama Menon is a nutritionist and food coach based in Mumbai and Bangalore offering sustainable nutritional plans with 3 chEATs per week. To book an appointment call 9902060225 or follow her on Instagram @iamanupamamenon