New Research Finds The First Ideal Diet For Pain Relief In Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients

What we eat impacts every aspect of our bodies. According to the University of Minnesota's Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality and Healing, what you eat provides your body with the materials it needs for optimal functioning. Not only does food have the power to keep us healthy and functioning, but eating the wrong foods can make us sick or worsen preexisting health conditions. According to the National Institutes of Health, eating certain foods too much or not enough increases risk of death from stroke, heart attack, and type 2 diabetes.

The importance of food on our health has motivated researchers to create specific diets to help keep us healthy and combat disease, but with so many diets to choose from, selecting a diet can feel like a guessing game. However, a new study is taking some of the guesswork out of diets for individuals with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in search of pain relief. 

Low-fat vegan diet decreased RA symptoms and improved weight loss

Mayo Clinic notes that rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints. Not only does it damage the joints, but it can also affect the skin, heart, eyes, lungs, and blood vessels. RA is more commonly seen in women than men.

According to WebMD, researchers of the new study published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine randomly assigned 44 women with rheumatoid arthritis to one of two diets, one being a low-fat vegan diet. After 16 weeks of eating the low-fat vegan diet, the average number of swollen joints decreased from seven to three. Women on the low-fat vegan diet also lost an average of 14 pounds while the women in the other group gained an average of two pounds (via WebMD).

You may be wondering if this diet can be followed with ease. Lead author Neal D. Barnard, an internal medicine specialist and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, noted that it's a practical and affordable diet. After reviewing the findings for WebMD, Dr. Daniel Solomon, a rheumatologist at Harvard Medical School, said that he wasn't sure if the food or the weight loss was responsible for the diet's benefits to individuals with RA. However, Dr. Barnard encourages RA patients to try changing their diet before using medication, and adds that they should know within a few weeks whether the diet is effective.