Rheumatoid Arthritis

Nia Rouseberg Author: Nia Rouseberg Time for reading: ~8 minutes Last Updated: March 03, 2024
Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that mainly affects the musculoskeletal system and is of infectious-allergic origin. It is important to monitor protein intake.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that mainly affects the musculoskeletal system and is of infectious-allergic origin. Sufferers have joint pain, difficulty moving (especially in the morning), some muscles atrophy. Proper diet can help control inflammation by providing the nutrients the body needs to maintain a healthy weight. This is important because being overweight increases the pressure on diseased joints and can worsen the condition. Moreover, body fat produces proteins called cytokines that promote inflammation. Studies show that the Mediterranean diet, which is based on the consumption of many fruits and vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats, is suitable for people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.

Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis

Signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis may include:

  • weak, fragile, sensitive, warm and swollen joints;
  • joint stiffness (usually most pronounced in the morning and inactivity);
  • fatigue, fever and loss of appetite.

Early rheumatoid arthritis usually affects the small joints first - especially those of the arms and legs. As the disease progresses, symptoms often spread to the wrists, knees, ankles, elbows, thighs and shoulders. In most cases, the symptoms appear in the same joints on both sides of the body. About 40% of people who have rheumatoid arthritis experience symptoms that do not involve the joints. The disease can also affect the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, kidneys, salivary glands, nervous tissue and blood vessels. The symptoms and signs of rheumatoid arthritis can vary in severity and even manifest and resolve. Periods of increased disease activity, called exacerbations, alternate with periods of relative remission - when swelling and pain subside or disappear.

In acute rheumatoid arthritis


In case of exacerbation of the disease, the amount of protein in the menu should be limited to 1.0-1.5 g per 1 kg of body weight.

Authorized foods:
  • milk, lactic acid drinks, cottage cheese, cheese, eggs;
  • meat, fish (cooked, steamed, baked, fried after cooking);
  • fruits, vegetables, berries, decoctions;
  • cereals - buckwheat, oats, millet;
  • bran and bran bread.

The amount of fat should be 1 g / kg body weight, about 15% of them - vegetable oils. During the exacerbation of the disease are limited carbohydrates (2-2.5 g per 1 kg of body weight), especially easily digestible (sugar, honey, jam, syrups).

Cooking salt is reduced to 4-5 grams per day (food is not salted, salt is added to ready meals - 1.5-2 g).

Prohibited foods:
  • spinach, sorrel, rhubarb, cauliflower decoction;
  • chocolate, cocoa;
  • confectionery;
  • salt;
  • bread;
  • alcohol (exacerbates rheumatoid arthritis).

The patient's menu should include an increased amount of vitamins (especially B1, B2, B6, PP, C, P, B). Taking antirheumatic drugs requires food to be prepared in particular (as in peptic ulcer disease). Such medications require meals to be rich in protein and vitamins.

In severe rheumatoid arthritis


In severe disease, a salt-free diet with a strong restriction of carbohydrates and the required amount of vegetables, fruits and berries (diet №10) is prescribed. With reduced appetite, severe deformity of the joints and changes in blood composition, it is recommended to increase the intake of foods high in protein, normal amount of fat and moderate restriction of salt and carbohydrates.

In mild rheumatoid arthritis


1. The consumption of: Fish, lean meats, eggs

Salmon, tuna, sardines, shrimp, herring, anchovies, mussels and other cold-water fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help control inflammation. The recommended intake of fish is 100 grams at least twice a week. The human body needs a healthy balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Studies have found that a higher ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is associated with an increase in chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. It is important to reduce the consumption of omega-6 foods such as meat, certain oils, fried and processed foods that contain these fats. In addition, the intake of omega-3 fatty acids should be increased. If you do not like to eat fish, consider buying a dietary supplement containing omega-3. Studies show that getting 600 to 1,000 milligrams of fish oil a day relieves joint stiffness, tenderness, pain and swelling. It is allowed to eat lean meats and eggs (up to 4 per week), but in moderation, as they are sources of omega-6 fatty acids.

Vegetables, fruits (and forest) and various foods from them

Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants, important for stabilizing free radicals, which can cause inflammation and damage cells in the human body. These natural products are a good source of vitamins and minerals that the body needs. The polyphenols they contain can help lower C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation. To get more health benefits, eat several different types of fresh or frozen fruit every day, but watch out for the sugar content in frozen versions. Add a variety of vegetables to provide the necessary nutrients. Aim to eat at least 400 grams of fruits and as many vegetables a day.

Citrus fruits such as orange, grapefruit and lime are rich in vitamin C. A study found that taking this vitamin in good amounts helps prevent arthritis and keep joints healthy. Suitable for adding to the diet of people suffering from arthritis are blueberries, cherries, kale, broccoli and others. The darker and fresher the color of the fruit, the more antioxidants they contain.


Legumes, such as beans and peas, are a great source of protein important for muscles. People with rheumatoid arthritis are prone to losing muscle mass. Moreover, peas and beans contain virtually no fat, but are a source of antioxidants. They are rich in folic acid, magnesium, iron, zinc and potassium, all known for their benefits for heart health and boosting the immune system. Beans are rich in fiber and phytonutrients that help lower CRP, an indicator of inflammation found in the blood. Black and red beans, as well as black eye beans are rich in antioxidant legumes, suitable for adding to the diet of people suffering from arthritis. It is recommended to consume about one cup of legumes two or more times a week.


Oatmeal and buckwheat products (not daily and in small amounts), whole wheat, brown rice, quinoa, bulgur, brown rice and other whole grains can reduce CRP protein levels and the risk of heart disease, which is increased in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Whole grains are higher in nutrients and fiber than refined grains. In addition, many refined products contain ingredients that are not good for health, such as added sugars and saturated fats. Read the labels and choose bread and other products that are whole grains. It is allowed to eat wheat and rye bread up to 200 grams.


Nuts are rich in healthy monounsaturated fats and nutrients. They have a beneficial effect on the heart. Pine nuts, pistachios, hazelnuts and almonds are especially useful for people with rheumatoid arthritis. Walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids, as well as ground flaxseed. They contain healthy fats, but are also high in calories, so they should not be eaten in excessive amounts. Studies have found that eating nuts promotes weight loss because the proteins, fiber and monounsaturated fats in them saturate. Eating a handful of raw nuts a day is enough to get the necessary nutrients.

Useful oils

Use olive oil instead of other oils and fats. In addition to healthy monounsaturated fats, olive oil contains a compound called oleocanthal, which reduces inflammation and relieves pain. Oleocanthal inhibits the activity of COX enzymes, which reduces inflammatory processes in the body and sensitivity to pain. Consume two to three tablespoons of oil a day to prevent weight gain. Prefer extra virgin olive oil, as it is less processed and contains more nutrients than standard types. Avocado and saffron oils are also good for health, they lower cholesterol. Walnut oil has 10 times more omega-3 fatty acids than olive oil.

  • Hydration is vital for removing toxins from the body and fighting inflammation. Adequate water intake can help the joints to be well "lubricated" and prevent gout attacks.
  • Green, black and white teas, like coffee, are rich in polyphenols - plant compounds that have strong anti-inflammatory effects. Polyphenols have been shown to have 100 times more antioxidant activity than vitamins C and E. Studies have shown that they also help maintain healthy cartilage and bone. In addition, they actively fight free radicals in the body, which cause cell damage. The link between coffee consumption and an increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis is controversial. Some studies say that coffee increases the risk, while others do not. It is best to drink coffee in moderation - no more than one or two cups a day. 
  • Drinking milk, as a good source of calcium, vitamin D and protein, can help prevent gout and fight the progression of osteoarthritis. Prefer low-fat milk.
  • Drink in moderation juices, as they are high in sugar and calories. Talk to your doctor before adding grapefruit juice to your diet, as it can deactivate or alter the effects of many arthritis medications. Suitable are orange juice, pineapple, carrot and others.
  • Prepared with yogurt, smoothies are rich in good bacteria (probiotics) and vitamins. The addition of a fermented beverage, such as kefir, can increase the probiotic content and reduce inflammation in the body. Prefer low-sugar or sugar-free dairy drinks.
  • Red wine contains a compound called resveratrol, which has well-established anti-inflammatory properties. Some studies show that moderate wine consumption, and not every day, is associated with a reduced risk of osteoarthritis of the knee and the development of rheumatoid arthritis. Other studies show that alcohol has a detrimental effect on arthritis. The recommendation is to avoid taking it to prevent side effects afterwards.
2. The consumption of:
  • sauerkraut soups;
  • kidneys, caviar;
  • rice porridge and puddings;
  • condensed milk.
3. The following are prohibited:
  • green leafy vegetables containing oxalates (spinach, rhubarb, sorrel, etc.);
  • by-products (liver, brain, etc.);
  • confectionery (cakes and others);
  • chocolate, cocoa;
  • salt;
  • alcoholic beverages;
  • fruit waters.
More on the topic:
  • Nutrition in polyarthritis

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