Nutrition Tips to Help Ease Rheumatoid Arthritis

Some doctors believe what you eat could affect your rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, most experts say it's too soon to know if eating a certain way could reduce symptoms. Even though studies don't favor a specific special diet, eating healthfully can help you stay in shape and maybe even feel better.

Tips for healthy eating

According to the Arthritis Foundation, these nutrients may help to manage your RA:

  • Eat foods high in omega-3 fatty acids. Cold water fish and certain nuts and seeds may help reduce inflammation in your body. Some studies found that people who take fish oil supplements need less arthritis medicine.

  • Sip green tea. Early research suggests that substances called polyphenols in green tea may help control inflammation and prevent joint damage that RA causes.

  • Avoid excess alcohol. This can cause problems if taken with some medicines for RA.

  • Selenium may help reduce inflammation, due to its antioxidant properties. Researchers think it plays a role a role in helping to prevent conditions such as arthritis, cancers, age-related blindness, cataracts, heart and cardiovascular disease, and kidney disease. Selenium is found in whole-grain wheat products and some shellfish. Check with your doctor before adding any supplemental selenium to your diet, as research suggests it may increase your risk for diabetes.

  • Many associate calcium and Vitamin D with bones and osteoporosis. However, some research links an increased intake of vitamin D in older women with a lower risk of developing RA.  Researchers think vitamin D may suppress the development of RA. Eggs and products fortified with vitamin D (such as breads, cereals, and milk) are good sources of vitamin D.

Pain-free cooking

What if painful joints make preparing food difficult? Try cooking in bigger batches, so you can reheat a meal the next day. Use utensils with padded handles, which are easier to grip. Look for slow cooker recipes that are simple and take only one pot.

Other tips for preparing food when you're affected by RA include:

  • Use fresh or frozen precut fruits or vegetables to eliminate the time and effort of peeling and chopping.

  • Place your microwave oven on the countertop and use it whenever possible, to eliminate stretching or bending to reach the oven.

  • Sit down at the kitchen table or on a high stool at the kitchen counter or stove for chores such as stirring, mixing, and chopping.