Optimal Rheumatoid Arthritis Nutrition

Optimal Rheumatoid Arthritis Nutrition provides sufficient nutrient rich foods for healing any damage and balancing the immune system. 

My aims for rheumatoid arthritis nutrition: find foods that provide all nutrients needed to resolve any chronic inflammation in an RA patient and heal any damage.  In other words, goals for a rheumatoid arthritis diet are to provide all the necessary nutrients to help people with RA heal their condition—from inflamed joints to gut to other organs.  Yes, it’s a tall order but you usually only get what you aim and search for.

To develop effective RA nutrition, let’s first decide what we need to heal.  Common symptoms of RA are chronic, unresolved inflammation of one or more joints.  Chronic inflammation devours nutrients and sucks energy from each person. 

However, our body initially responds to any insult with inflammation. It sounds the alarms for cells and begins the healing process.  After the challenge is resolved, then most people calm down the inflammation. 

Why don’t RA patients calm down the inflammation? 

Could RA patients just have too few nutrients to fully heal?

That’s probably too simple, but our foods, meals, and snacks are lifestyle choices that we control. 

Eating high nutrient dense foods that agree with our body likely can’t hurt us.  These foods could possibly heal some or all of the damage, at least theoretically.

Can eating the “wrong food” trigger symptoms?

Yes.  Some foods trigger RA symptoms in some people?  

Some physicians report as few as 1 in 20 patients (5%) have food sensitivities [1] whereas Dr. Darlington reported that one in every 3 of her RA patients (33%) in the 1990’s showed RA symptoms after eating a specific food.  If they eliminated the offending food(s), then the RA patients remained symptom free for the length of the study--up to 7 and a half years.[2

While some physicians call them food allergies, they may be intolerances or sensitivities—they don’t trigger IgE as a classical allergen.  Regardless, if they cause you problems, consider avoiding them.  

The foods differed among RA patients:  the 5 most common foods to trigger symptoms in RA patients were corn, wheat, bacon/pork, oranges, and cow milk.[3]  However, diets adjusted for each individual RA patient appear to help the most.[4] 

One or more food sensitivities, allergies, or intolerances that trigger chronic inflammation in a susceptible person is one of four types of causes of RA.  The scientific literature has identified 3 additional types of causes that can trigger RA in susceptible people [5]

(1) injury to a bone or joint that doesn’t heal properly;

(2) an infection with one of 14 different organisms that doesn’t resolve correctly;

(3) excess exposure to an environmental toxin that the susceptible person can’t disable and remove fast enough—examples are silicone filling, air pollution, smoking, and some pesticides.

What would effective rheumatoid arthritis nutrition look like?

Delicious real foods would fill an optimal rheumatoid arthritis diet. 

Scrumptious foods can support the health of the gut (to avoid development of food sensitivities and repair any damage in the gut). 

Mouthwatering foods can help keep your immune system balanced and ready to fight any infections — so the disease causing microbes are killed, their toxins are fully expelled, and the surrounding tissue goes back to normal.

Enjoyable foods can provide the nutrients to disable and get rid of any environmental toxins.  Since glutathione is one of the main garbage men of our bodies—sorting, picking up, and removing trash—check out the page on foods that boost glutathione.

Luscious foods can provide all the nutrients for strong bones and joints.  Because I couldn’t find a book with all the nutrients needed for strong bones and joints—more than 25 nutrients, I wrote Beginners Guide to Strong Bones and Joints.  The book explains how to pick foods that support your health and the basics (bone structure, how bones grow and are repaired, joint structures, how joints grow and repair, food sources), backed by 100+ scientific references.    

6 TIPS for Optimal Rheumatoid Arthritis Nutrition

1.        Enjoy richly colored fruits (cherries, blueberries, berries), vegetables (broccoli, kale, red cabbage, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, etc), nuts, beans (that agree with your blood type), pasture- raised poultry, game, lamb, rabbit, or steers.

2.       Eat real foods, and avoid as many chemicals as possible. 

3.       Eat sufficient foods to obtain 4.5 g of omega-3 oils, preferably daily.  A mix of freshly ground flax seed, wild caught Alaskan salmon, walnuts, other oily fish, dark green vegetables,

4.       Consider eating foods that provide you with more energy, clearer thinking, and less pain. 

5.       Consider avoiding foods that induce bloating, swelling in joints within an hour or even overnight.  Some foods can cause a response that lasts as long as 18 days.   A replacement diet can help identify those foods that can trigger symptoms. 

6.       Enjoy sufficient water. 


1              Panush RS. Food induced ("allergic") arthritis: clinical and serologic studies. J. Rheumatol. 1990;17(3):291-294.

2              Darlington LG,  Ramsey NW. Diets for rheumatoid arthritis. Lancet 1991;338(8776):1209-1210.

3              Darlington LG. Does food intolerance have any role in the aetiology and management of rheumatoid disease? Ann. Rheum. Dis. 1985;44(11):801-804.

4              Kjeldsen-Kragh J, Haugen M, Borchgrevink CF et al. Controlled trial of fasting and one-year vegetarian diet in rheumatoid arthritis. Lancet 1991;338(8772):899-902.

5              Molnar-Kimber KL,  Kimber CT. Each type of cause that initiates rheumatoid arthritis or RA flares differentially affects the response to therapy. Med. Hypotheses 2012;78(1):123-129.


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