Rheumatoid arthritis treatment: ‘Modified’ fasting may improve symptoms

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Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-term condition that causes pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis can be life changing depending on how much pain and stiffness you feel and how much joint damage you have. You may need to adapt the way you do everyday tasks, or make changes to your lifestyle, to help you manage your condition.

Fortunately, lifestyle changes can greatly ease the burden the condition places on your life.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), modified fasting can help.

As the NIH reports, modified fasting (up to 500 kcal energy intake per day) for seven to ten days leads to an improvement of the symptoms in many patients with rheumatoid arthritis and is regularly used by the applicants for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

“Several clinical studies have shown that therapeutic fasting produces anti-inflammatory effects,” adds the health body.

Fasting considerations

Fasting may not be advisable for everyone and there are important considerations.

If you’re reducing your food intake, it is vital that you maintain a healthy, balanced diet rich in fruit, veg and whole grains, says Bupa.

“If you regularly take certain medicines (for example, insulin), make sure you discuss any form of diet plan with your GP before you start,” says Bupa.

Other important considerations include:

  • Many people put weight back on after following a set diet or eating plan. Intermittent fasting is no exception. Making long-term sustainable changes to your diet is a better way to consistently maintain a healthy weight.
  • If you have a long-term illness or a history of eating disorders, diets that severely restrict calories are not recommended. This also applies if you have depression, anxiety or another mental health condition.
  • Avoiding intermittent fasting if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

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Key dietary items to include

Fruit and vegetables are an essential component of any healthy, balanced diet and evidence suggests particular items can be beneficial for managing rheumatoid arthritis.

Dark green leafy vegetables have been singled out for their beneficial properties.

The Arthritis Foundation (AF) explained: “Energy production and other metabolic processes in the body produce harmful byproducts called free radicals.

“Not only do free radicals damage cells, but they also have been linked to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and inflammation.

“Green, leafy vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts, kale, Swiss chard and bok choy are packed with antioxidants like vitamins A, C and K, which protect cells from free-radical damage.”

According to the AF, these foods are also high in bone-preserving calcium. high in bone-preserving calcium.

Other beneficial fruit and veg include:

  • Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Red Peppers and Squash
  • Red and Green Peppers
  • Onions, Garlic, Leeks and Shallots
  • Olives
  • Nightshade Vegetables.

Dietary no-nos

In addition to increasing your intake of certain items, there are some you should avoid.

You should avoid foods high in saturated Fat, such as meat, butter and cheese.

Saturated fats can raise your total cholesterol and your LDL, or bad, cholesterol levels – precursors to heart disease.

“People with arthritis are more at risk for heart disease, so they need to be watching [their cholesterol levels],” warned Christine McKinney, RD, a clinical dietitian at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

According to the AF, small amounts of saturated fats can be incorporated into a healthy diet but should be limited to less than 10 percent of your total calorie intake.

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