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Food and Rheumatoid Arthritis Flare-Ups: Is There Anything on the Menu You Can Eat?

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Sometimes I wish I could be like my 106-year-old grandmother who, as she so delicately puts it, “can eat anything, anywhere, at any time, cooked anyhow, with anyone, under any circumstances, without any problem!” In fact, she claims that “good eatin’” is her secret to longevity, especially when the core food groups are salt, grease, cream, gravy, and butter.

Okay, so Grandma is not “normal” by most folks’ standards. In fact, I would venture to say that many of us, regardless of how healthy we are (or not), tend to follow some sort of diet to help alleviate pain and inflammation, keep the weight down, provide more energy, and so on and so forth. Food plays a very significant role in how we look, feel, and act.

When you are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, just opening up that refrigerator door or scanning a restaurant menu can be the ultimate test. When you give in to your temptations, those foods can cause your joints to swell, ache, and stiffen up.

All is not lost! You can still eat the foods you love; you just have to practice what my grandma has told me all along: moderation. Do you enjoy red meat? That’s fine; just opt for the leaner cuts. If your taste buds are begging for salt, grab a handful of nuts instead of a bag of chips.

For rheumatoid arthritis patients, it is important to follow an anti-inflammatory diet. Just because you are making smarter food choices does not have to make them boring. If you challenge yourself to spend just one week consuming antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies, high-fiber grains, and healthy fats, you will most likely notice a significant reduction in flare-ups, aches, and pains related to your condition.

When you eat a diet high in saturated fats, that’s when trouble starts brewing. Red meat, pork, poultry, eggs and butter are animal products that contain harmful saturated fat, which is known to quickly trigger inflammation throughout the body. If you regularly consume these products, be prepared for muscle pain, joint pain, heartburn, fatigue, and even acne problems.

What’s a lazy weekend morning, then, without an omelet? Go ahead and enjoy one. Just use the egg whites instead of the whole egg. The yolk is home to the saturated fat. If you enjoy milk, ditch the whole milk for the skim milk. And if you are a meat person, enjoy the leaner cuts such as sirloin steak, pork loin chops, and chicken breasts.

Two of the best sources of protein are salmon and mackerel. These contain beneficial levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Don’t assume, though, that fats are bad. You just need to obtain more fats from plant sources as opposed to animals. The fats found in olive oil, nuts, and avocados are good.

When you head towards the pantry in an effort to satisfy that craving for salty snacks, grab a handful of walnuts instead of chips. Walnuts provide a great source of omega-3.

So, exactly how do these comfort foods we crave trigger rheumatoid arthritis? When consumed, they quickly break down into sugar, making one’s insulin levels rise, which in turns causes inflammation.

If you have a sweet tooth, eat your surgery treat with some protein, as that will slow the breakdown into glucose. Some great options include Bing cherries, apples, and pears. Sprinkle some cinnamon on those and you may feel as if you are indulging in something utterly sinful and decadent!

Certain foods such as milk and wheat products can trigger intolerance in people. Some may experience bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, and headaches. When this happens, the immune system will create antibodies causing an inflammation cycle. By temporarily eliminating these foods and then slowly incorporating them back into your diet, one by one, you can identify which ones are causing you problems and then permanently eliminate that substance from your diet.

Be sure to consult your physician before you alter your diet, as he or she can provide additional information unique to your condition.

(Information for this article was found at http://www.lifescript.com/Health/Conditions/Arthritis/Foods_that_Trigger_Rheumatoid_Arthritis_Flare-Ups.aspx?utm_source=outbrain&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Arthritis_Rheumatoid and at http://www.arthritistoday.org/conditions/rheumatoid-arthritis/nutrition-and-ra/ra-food-allergies-2.php)

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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