Proper nutrition for rheumatoid arthritis is an important measure in the treatment of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Some problems and factors associated with diet and nutrition that affect patients with this condition include:
- Maintaining a healthy body weight.
- The inclusion of fat in the diet.
- The inclusion of antioxidants in the diet.
- The inclusion of minerals and vitamins in the diet.
Proper nutrition for rheumatoid arthritis – maintaining a healthy body weight
Obesity and weight gain are a problem that can affect the joints in several ways. Excess body fat predisposes to inflammation that worsens rheumatoid arthritis. Excessive body mass leads to the appearance of inflammatory markers, such as C – reactive protein and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR). Obesity and overweight also increase pressure on joints associated with weight, such as knees, hips, ankles, etc.
Weight loss is desirable to achieve a healthy body weight. To this end, energy consumption should be less than energy costs. To reduce body weight, part of the intake can be reduced, fat products can be excluded from the diet, and fat products can be replaced with a lower fat content. It is recommended to eat lean meat using low-fat cooking methods such as pastries and grills, as well as eating lots of fruits and vegetables.
Underweight after diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis is another common feature. This is due to several reasons, including:
- Loss of appetite.
- Inability to eat or cook as the disease progresses.
- Side effects of drugs.
- Side effects of depression related to disability.
With severe weight loss, muscle and fatty tissue is lost. With muscle loss, daily activities are even more difficult. With unplanned and severe weight loss, the patient soon becomes fragile and sick. To prevent weight loss, it is recommended to use healthy, balanced foods that are taken in small portions. Smaller portions of nutritious, dense and energy-rich foods are recommended. These include fish, cheese, eggs, dairy products, and meat. Energy and nutritious drinks such as milk and milk drinks, and fruit juices are recommended.
The inclusion of fat in the diet
There are several varieties of foods with healthy fats that can help patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Fats consumed in the diet are divided into 4 different types of fatty acids – saturated, trans – fatty acids, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Of these, saturated and trans-fatty acids are considered harmful to the body, while monounsaturated and polyunsaturated are desirable and beneficial, and in addition, proper nutrition for rheumatoid arthritis.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids can be of two types: Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, sardines, anchovies, herring, mackerel, etc. And also in flaxseeds, walnuts, rapeseed oil, etc. They help reduce the production of inflammatory markers in the body.
Omega-3 fatty acids also relieve joint pain and stiffness in rheumatoid arthritis. These agents act similarly to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and also prevent platelet aggregation.
Omega-6 fatty acids are found in seeds, nuts, and vegetable oils such as sunflower, safflower, corn, sesame, etc. Omega-6 fatty acids are not considered beneficial for rheumatoid arthritis.
The inclusion of antioxidants in the diet
Inflammation is a complex process that leads to the formation of free radicals. These free radicals are extremely destructive. Antioxidants protect against free radical damage. In the diet, antioxidants are obtained from vitamin C, vitamin E and b – carotene. These agents are abundant in fruits and vegetables. Including apples, oranges, spinach, tomatoes, blueberries, cherries, carrots, broccoli and others, brightly colored vegetables, etc.
The inclusion of minerals and vitamins in the diet
- Calcium is essential for all patients with arthritis, as it helps maintain healthy bones. Those with rheumatoid arthritis are prone to developing osteoporosis or fragile and prone to fracture bones. Calcium helps prevent this. Milk is an excellent source of calcium.
- Vitamin D is also involved in maintaining calcium balance in the body and bones. Vitamin D is also important in helping the body absorb calcium. Vitamin D can be obtained from eggs, oily fish, and sunlight.
- Iron – anemia is a common feature of people with rheumatoid arthritis. This is caused by both medications used in the condition and inflammatory outbreaks. Iron is essential for the prevention and treatment of anemia. Iron is obtained in the diet from red meat, poultry, and fish and from green leafy vegetables, legumes and seeds.
- Folic acid is a vital nutrient for patients taking methotrexate. Folic acid helps in creating new cells in the body. Methotrexate can lead to folic acid deficiency, which should be replaced by supplements. Products with it include green leafy vegetables, legumes, fortified cereals, etc.
- Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements are not beneficial for patients with rheumatoid arthritis and should not be used. These agents help in the repair and maintenance of cartilage and are useful in patients with osteoarthritis and not with RA.