Diet and RA

Diet and RA

Has anyone tried adapting their diet in order to help control their disease? There is plenty of anecdotal evidence out their regarding diet and RA, but what impact does it actually have?

NRAS has been approached by a journalist working for a food magazine seeking to interview someone with RA who has tried to control their disease using diet.

Of course we would not necessarily want to endorse any particular diet as the evidence is largely anecdotal and what works for one person may not work for another, but some things may benefit some people.

If you would like to talk to them then please do let me know. Email me at

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15 Replies

  • Having been diagnosed just over one year ago, I have been on a semi-vegetarian and semi-gluten free diet. I try to eat lots of fruit and vegetables and use curry and ginger and whatever else I can find for the anti-inflammatory properties. The ginger seems to work best! I take 7.5 mg. methotrexate per week.

  • hi Andrew

    I do feel a bit worried about this, as one of the things about RA and diet is that there's so little really solid assessment of what works for which people, and trying to tease out the different factors that might influence this. So more stuff/publicity that's based on single case studies to me is really not helpful at all as it perpetuates myths and division. I got really cross about a story recently that just made it sound as if we should all throw away our drugs and use diet instead (and prompted a friend to tell me that's what I should do) - and I would hate there to be a similar story that ended up sounding as if that was an approach that NRAS endorse. To me there is no doubt that my diet is very important in helping me manage my RA, and that's part of living a healthy lifestyle. But diet is just not going to hack it in controlling my RA, it's just part of the picture.

  • Polly hits the nail on the head as usual!

    I would love to see more research into RA & anecdotal evidence is no substitute for that. I too feel that eating certain things and not others has helped me but the trouble with focusing on diet etc. is that it can imply that getting RA is our fault, and that, conversely, we each hold the key to getting better. Perhaps there's a grain of truth in that because lifestyle can, possibly, trigger the disease & lifestyle changes are often highly beneficial but the whole picture's much more complex.

    Additionally I do believe that the quality of food available to us isn't nearly as good as it could be due to the exhaustion of soils by modern farming methods, overuse of pesticides & fertilisers, GM crops etc. etc. and this is very difficult for individuals to address. Magazine articles about 'healing diets' are all too often just thinly veiled advertisements for supermarkets. And furthermore a lot of people with chronic disease feel the impact on their wallets & looking after yourself really well can be expensive or too big an ask for those struggling to survive a day's work.

    I've got a feeling they probably wouldn't want to talk to me!

  • Both Polly and Luce express everything I feel very eloquently. Tilda

  • It is hard to weed out what diet recommendations for RA actually work and what is just a faddy bandwagon. There is the no nightshades diet, no meat, no acidic food, no dairy, then there are the anti inflammatory diets - turmeric, pineapple, cherry juice, raw food, the Palaeo freaks are saying meat is anti-inflammatory! Is it or isn't it? I'm vegetarian and on a very limited budget so I simply can't afford the diet I would love to be on.

  • Before I started taking any kind of drugs to treat RA I tried a special diet and three months later the inflammatory blood markers were down to normal levels. However, the blood results didn't tell the full picture as I now have bone erosions and have been told quite bluntly by my GP and rheumatologist that without drug treatment my bones be destroyed and I'll need joint replacements. I would be reluctant to talk to the journalist because, as others have said, diet is only one part of tackling RA and I went for months refusing treatment (a-because I'd had several bad reactions to drugs and b-because I mistakenly thought I could do it through diet alone).

    If anyone does decide to talk to the journalist: just a tip: ask them to read the copy back to you prior to publication - including the title, as often subs add the title in afterwards and it can alter the tone of the piece. Make sure you're happy with it and it reflects your experience; if parts of it don't, ask them to change it.

  • I agree with the views above, this is risky and individual anecdotes won't help us. I would argue against taking part. I wonder which newspaper?

  • I agree with the above comments. That said I have spent the past 18 months tweaking my diet and losing weight. This in combination with methotrexate has really helped me to cope with RA both physically and mentally. I think a healthy diet and exercise are essential to good health, especially for those with chronic illness. I've tried the turmeric, apple cider vinegar, cutting out oranges and potatoes etc etc but in truth I think losing weight and getting fit have been crucial to my health. I dread to think where I would be now If I hadn't taken control.

    Paula x

  • Healthy eating has been a real help to me.

    The result of RA for me has been to change most of my life, losing mobility, giving up work, and getting depressed. Anti-depressants made me put on a stone. Comfort eating made things worse, so I ended up overweight. Weight doesn't help joint problems.

    So I changed my ways about 2 years ago, started a "real food" eating plan, had CBT to get my mind healthy, and have now lost some weight, got my waist back, know how to control my depression and feel much better as I feel I have some "control" back. I have even gone down 2 bra sizes! But I still have RA and all its problems.

    So yes, healthy food choices can make you feel better. But I won't be any use to a journalist, as I don't eat manufactured food products/processed stuff. Just any food that doesn't need an ingredients list on the back.

  • I don't think NRAS should endorse any particular way of life or diet. What works for one may not work for another. We need to eat healthily with plenty of fresh fruit and veg (5 a day works), cut down on the red meat which can cause inflammation I understand and plenty of chicken and oily fish. I follow the WW pro points diet which works for me apart from the occasional chocolate lapse! Other people on this site have found Dukan, Slimming World etc works for them. It is too individual to make any sweeping recommendations. I try to eat local produce rather than imported produce. I go for English apples, fruit (we're a great strawberry and raspberry growing area) and veg. I also try to buy meat which is produced in the UK (England, Scotland, Ireland) and has its origin on it. Local butchers are best for that as you get the life history of the beast. I sometimes think we need to get back to only using seasonal fruit, veg etc rather than all this imported stuff when you don't know how it is produced and what chemicals have been used on it. Also to wash all fruit and veg before using. LavendarLady

  • I agree with the rest of the comments it would be very easy to jump on the band waggon of a certain diet supposed to help!

    Diet is very individual & what works for some doesn't work for others - none of us are the same!

    For me eating very little carbohydrate, no processed food, lots of protein, fish & some fats has helped. I am certainly better when I avoid gluten.

  • Many thanks for all your responses and I do agree with what you are saying - the concerns you raised are exactly why I stated we wouldn't want to endorse any particular diet. I think the one thing that most people would agree on however, is that having a healthy balanced lifestyle can be good for people with RA (and everyone else) so that is potentially an area to focus on.

  • I would approach Dr Gail Darlington from Epsom General Hospital who wrote the excellent book called Diet and Arthritis with Linda Gamlin. (isbn 9780091816599). She has been using an 'elimination' diet to deal with her patients food intolerances for years which some great success stories and has proper medical research/ tests to back her results up. Her book includes a critique on many of the other diets out there so worth a read for this alone. It is not for all kinds or arthritis but I believe that everyone can benefit from avoiding foods that you are intolerant too. I have tried it and have had much success although I was only early stages - my fatigue is mostly gone, no more pains in shoulders or elbows and can move my fingers now almost as soon as I wake up. I can't understand why this book is not taken up by the authorities and given either more consideration by consultants and made more widely known.

    If anyone is considering trying an elimination diet or another kind, i recommend reading this book first.

    Anyway, back to your question, i imagine you should be able to find some of her patients willing to be interviewed.



  • Just thought I would add my father had osteo arthritis and he always found tomatoes made it worse and he was allergic to strawberries as well. Lavendarlady x

  • Have noticed certain foods do aggravate the condition whilst fasting alleviates all symptoms, I firmly believe my diet needs changing, with this in mind, I did some research today which lead me to read this article.

    Would be most interested in hearing from others on their diet elimination experiences, think i will give it a bash when we come back from our holiday

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