Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic condition which mostly presents itself as joint pain. Statistics suggest that every year, 41 out 100,000 people are diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). A projected prevalence issued by the CDC indicates that by 2040, an estimated 78 million US adults over the age of 18 will have doctor-diagnosed arthritis.
What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that disrupts the body's immune system, triggering it to attack healthy body tissues. This attack leads to inflammation, swelling, pain, and redness in joints and surrounding tissues.
Patients of RA feel pain in joints and toes while doing any physical activity. They find it difficult to bend, stand for a long time, carry heavy items, and walk a longer distance.
What Causes Rheumatoid Arthritis?
The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not clear. However, many risk factors heighten the risk of you developing RA. These include being overweight or being obese, having a weak immune system, using tobacco over a long time, and having an infectious disease.
To treat rheumatoid arthritis, you need to address the inflammation. Doctors provide you disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs for this purpose. These meds lower your body's immune response and consequently reduce joint inflammation. Doctors also prescribe other anti-inflammatory drugs, such a tumour necrosis alpha inhibitors to manage rheumatoid arthritis.
But do you know that drugs are not the only way to lower inflammation? Your lifestyle, eating habits, sleeping routine, and physical activity all play an essential role in reducing or raising inflammation. Your lifestyle changes are within your control, and if corrected fully, they may have a substantial impact for your betterment.
How The Keto Diet Manages Rheumatoid Arthritis?
As mentioned above, one of the most significant risk factors for developing RA is being overweight or being obese. Weight loss has shown a relieving effect on RA if you are obese. Generally, physical activity is desirable for people suffering from RA, but obesity makes it painful to exercise correctly. This is where the keto diet steps in. Even in the absence of exercise, keto diet triggers fast weight loss, which reduces pressure on joints, therefore alleviating any pain.
On the other hand, keto diet work is anti-inflammatory too. It naturally lowers inflammation to relieve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
The keto diet drastically reduces carb intake and replaces it with healthy fats. The general ketogenic diet model comprises consuming 70-80% fats, 15% proteins and only 5-10% carbohydrates.
So, by reducing carbs and consuming high levels of fats and proteins, we transfer our body's reliance from glucose to fats as its primary energy source. The basic rule of keto diet lies within this shift of energy source. It's surprising, though, that this seemingly "weight-loss diet" can also be a pain-relieving method for rheumatoid arthritis.
High blood sugar levels cause chronic inflammation, and switching to the keto diet not only reduces the number of carbs to lower blood sugar but also promotes taking healthy fats to manage it in the longer run. The keto diet also produces adenosine, a natural painkiller that reduces inflammation, pain, and heals wounds. The keto diet inhibits inflammasomes, which activates an inflammatory response in the body.
Keto Diet for Rheumatoid Arthritis
If you wish to do the keto diet to alleviate your RA symptoms, please don't forget to make a few tweaks to the standard keto diet to suit your condition better. Typical immune triggering foods like dairy, nuts, eggs, and seeds should be eliminated from the diet. These food items should be replaced with things that support healthy joints and reduce inflammation in the body such as fermented veggies, coconut fats, avocados, olives, bone broth, and some green leafy vegetables.
Eating a lot of fibre on a ketogenic diet is useful for gut bacteria. Gut bacteria get nourishment from this fibre, which promotes digestion in the body. Fibre intake also improves the health of the intestine by providing short-chain fatty acids that have anti-inflammatory effects.
Some vegetables that should be taken in excess during keto diet for rheumatoid arthritis include celery, cauliflower, green beans, broccoli, and lettuce.
Fats are significant constituents of the keto diet for rheumatoid arthritis that make up the bulk of your diet. Besides providing fuel to the body, fats also serve as a transport vehicle for transporting some nutrients like vitamin A, D, and K to the body. These nutrients ensure bone strength by helping in calcium deposition in bones. Avocados, pastured meat, grass-fed butter, coconut oil, and seafood are among the best fat-containing sources that you can utilize.
If you have a sedentary lifestyle and want to lose weight and reduce symptoms of RA, you need to limit your protein intake to 0.5-0.8 grams per kg of your body weight. Pastured meats, organ meats, and bone broth are the best options for a protein source. These will not only help you maintain weight but also keeps your bones healthy.
Eating fruits on a keto diet is not a very good idea as fruits are generally high in sugars. But you can always look for low glycemic fruits that not only keep extra sugar at bay sugar under control but are also nutritious and healthy for your bones. Organic berries and concord grapes are a rich source of antioxidants. Adding them into the list of keto diet for rheumatoid arthritis battles inflammation and reduces the pain of RA to some extent.
Bone- Building Food
When it comes to bone strength, people increase calcium intake for rebuilding their bones. But calcium alone cannot strengthen the bones. Certain nutrients such as Vitamin D, Vitamin K, and Magnesium ensure successful deposition of calcium in bones. It is recommended to consume foods with these beneficial nutrients for your bone's nourishment. Good sources of these nutrients include pasture-raised hen's egg yolk, green leafy vegetables, sea vegetables, bone broth, and collagen protein. They provide nourishment to the soft tissues that get affected in RA.
So, if you have rheumatoid arthritis and are also struggling with your weight, you have a diet that is safe and will work for you! The keto diet for rheumatoid arthritis will not only help you lose weight but will also reduce pain in your joints by reducing inflammation and lifting the stress off of your body. Remember, though, keep your doctor in the loop before you start your keto diet for rheumatoid arthritis. If you are starting the keto diet, check out the Keto Starter Bundle to get the most out of your keto experience.
- Dr. Jockers.com, Supercharge your health, (n.d), Rheumatoid Arthritis Diet: Is Keto the Way? (https://drjockers.com/rheumatoid-arthritis-diet-keto/)
- UAB News, (March 22, 2019), Study: Low-carb diet provides relief from knee osteoarthritis (https://www.uab.edu/news/health/item/10316-study-low-carb-diet-provides-relief-from-knee-osteoarthritis)
- Diet Doctor, Nutritional pain relief (https://www.dietdoctor.com/nutritional-pain-relief)