Can a Healthy Lifestyle and Diet Help Your Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Sep 24, 2019

If you’ve been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, you may feel a little confused by all the advice you receive from well-meaning friends and family members regarding the various treatment options for your condition. You may have heard that certain foods are good or bad for sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis, and you may feel overwhelmed by the conflicting advice you receive.

Understanding a few basic facts about diet and lifestyle changes in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, and discussing these findings with your doctor, will help you discern what is best for your treatment plan.

Lifestyle Changes Are Not a Substitute for Medical Care

Developing a healthy lifestyle can be beneficial for some people, as keeping your body in the best health possible may lessen flare-ups. However, even if lifestyle changes seem to improve your condition, they are never a substitute for proper medical treatment. You should always discuss any changes to your diet and lifestyle with your doctor and keep all regularly scheduled appointments.

Sleep Matters

Getting adequate sleep can be a problem if you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, as painful flare-ups can keep you awake at night. However, proper sleep is restorative to the body and can boost your immune system, which may lessen flare-ups or shorten their duration. Certain arthritic medications, such as steroids, can also affect your sleep.

You should discuss any sleep issues with your doctor to rule out medication side effects or necessary medication dosage adjustments. Your doctor can also work with you to develop good sleep hygiene habits, such as going to bed at the same time each night, avoiding large meals close to bedtime, and turning off electronic devices an hour before bedtime.

Nightshade Vegetables Could Cause Potential Inflammation

Nightshade vegetables are thought to cause inflammation and trigger flare-ups in individuals who are sensitive to them. Examples of nightshades include white potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant. However, these claims have not been proven, though some people claim they have felt better when eliminating them from their diet.

You may wish to do a trial of eliminating nightshade foods from your diet for a few weeks to see if you notice any improvement. Again, your doctor is the best one to advise you on dietary changes.

Healthy Weight Can Help

Carrying around even a few extra pounds puts additional stress and strain on your joints. Maintaining a normal weight for your height and body type may make a difference for flare-ups you have and result in prolonged remission times.

You should follow a diet consisting of plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and healthy fats if you need to lose weight. Exercise can help with weight loss but may be difficult for those coping with pain. A low-impact exercise plan, such as daily short walks, may help, but you should avoid any activity that increases your pain level.

Stress Reduction Is Essential

Being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis can be discouraging and life changing. You may be concerned about making changes in your daily routine or knowing how this condition will affect your social life. Finding a rheumatoid arthritis support group online or in your local community can be helpful by making you feel less alone

Meditation, yoga, and learning a new hobby can also help you maintain a healthy mindset. These activities can reduce high stress levels, which are often triggers for many medical conditions. Keep a positive outlook by discussing your fears and uncertainties with your health care provider.

Taking an active role in your health care, when diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, can make a positive difference in the outcome of your condition. Working closely with your doctor and making healthy lifestyle changes is the best way to manage your symptoms. Contact the Sarasota Arthritis Center to discuss all of your rheumatoid arthritis concerns and to establish a treatment plan that’s best for you.

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