Has anyone tried using diet to put their RA into remission? Any success?

I was diagnosed with RA January 2012 and was put immediately on 15 mg Meloxicam (NSAID). I started MTX at the end of that month (10 mg). My condition steadily worsened even as my MTX was increased up to 25mg by June 2012. Over that summer I started taking high doses of fish oil and Vitamin D. In late August 2012, I started Humira and found my RA begin to get under control shortly thereafter. In January 2013, I went gluten free and added back red meat to my diet (had avoided it for more than 12 years). By February/March, I was following a "primal/paleo" diet (For me this meant no grains, no legumes, limited sugar and dairy). I was able to remove the Meloxicam and gradually reduce the MTX to 5mg. I felt amazing until October/November when a combination of stress, lack of sleep and drop off from my regular exercise routine (in my opinion) led to a flare, which I still have. I am currently on a strict Paleo Autoimmune Protocol, which I think is starting to help - though under the advice of my rheumy, I've also doubled my MTX to 20mg.

12 Replies

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  • If it works I guess that is good. Some people find meat makes them worse. I don't have a choice as I'm vegetarian but I have cut out potatoes, aubergines and fresh tomatoes. I don't have the money to pay for the sort of food I would like to eat unfortunately. xx

  • I was vegetarian for over 10 years and felt so much better once I made the choice to eat meat again. I find it really remarkable from a scientific perspective. I hear a lot about vegans and vegetarians ending up with an autoimmune issue and it makes me wonder how much our diets could have had an impact. It's interesting what you say about the nightshades. Do you have a problem with peppers/paprika as well?

  • I try to eat a healthy diet and avoid processed foods. I'm only human though and have the occasional slip...last nights wine and chinese being a fine example.

    I feel much better when eating clean and exercising regularly. I find it very tiring and tell myself my body is too exhausted to be bothered attacking itself! Not very scientific but it works for me. I was on mtx for sero positive ra but side effects have meant I came off meds in January. I'm due a scan next week to look for inflammation so guess I'll learn if my lifestyle is really helping.

  • How on earth are you surviving without your meds?? I can't say that they're doing a heck of a lot for me these days, but i went off my NSAIDs for three days and definitely saw the difference they make!! I won't be doing that again until or unless I am back to feel amazing! Best of luck to you!

  • I'm not surviving particularly well to tell the truth. Over the past few days my pain has really increased and I've got a really pronounced limp now. I had my scan today but have to wait a couple of weeks for my clinic appointment to find out the results. I'm not expecting them to be good. Good luck with your diet and I'll be very interested to follow your progress. I definitely feel better when I eat clean and avoid alcohol but my willpower has been rubbish recently. x

  • It's certainly harder to keep a clean diet when you feel awful! I wish you the very best of luck and will be sure to share the results of my little experiment, good or bad. If you're open to it and have some support at home to help you with your groceries and cooking, you might want to take a look at phoenixhelix.com - only because she is somehow living with RA without meds (except for a daily over the counter NSAID). Wouldn't that be nice!

  • I have heard that people who switch to Paleo diet see improvement. I have not eaten beef or pork since 1976, so I don't know if I could stomach it. Don't like the taste of beef or pork. I tried totals vegan diet from September through December and felt awful. the rheumy mentioned oxalates found in most vegetables, legumes, and nuts which were the foods I was consuming and said they cause inflammation if you have leaky gut. Dr Oz has also had shows discussing leaky digestive system and oxalates and inflamation/autoimmune. In January I switched to fish and chicken And low oxalate foods. Haven't noticed much improvement but its said to take a long time to heal the digestive track.

  • I would definitely recommend you read up on the autoimmune protocol on thepaleomom.com and/or phoenixhelix.com. I had been almost 20 years without pork or beef and had absolutely no ill effects reintroducing it to my diet. It was clear from my own experience that my body was very, very happy to be eating meat again. I cannot say the same would be said if I reintroduced wheat after only 1 year without it.

  • There are lots of posts on here about dietary manipulation - and lots of different opinions. There is information on the NRAS site as well. It's very tempting to link specific foods to flares, or the exclusion of foods to periods of improvement when the disease may just be having its usual fluctuations.

    So be cautious about making sure that whatever dietary restrictions you put on yourself, you continue to have a good balanced nutritious diet.

  • First off, I want to thank everyone for their replies. Food for thought - haha!i do want to know more about the "usual fluctuations" of RA - do you have periods of feeling great? Does it really swing to such extremes? I guess everyone's experience is a little different, but I can't say I've had this long enough to know if it's diet, drugs, or the ebbs and flow of RA. Thanks!!

  • I do have periods of feeling great when my hands shrink and I can see the bones in my wrists and they don't hurt all the time.

    But also periods of depression when I feel really fed up with feeling like I have flu, aching and pain and every movement hurting.

    This has happened over nearly forty years now and I have been on very many different treatments - but I have confounded the prognosis given when I first started that I would probably die in my fifties!

    Best of luck with finding a treatment that helps, together with a way of life that enables you to live life to the full despite the RA.

  • Thanks oldtimer. It's really important for me to hear from people who have been dealing with this for a long time - though I am truly sorry that anyone had to "pave the way" so to speak. I did feel amazing last year. With my fingers that couldn't open a key in a lock, I was able to do indoor rock climbing - and without any soreness or stiffness afterwards! I was even ready to sign up for a 22k obstacle course! I feel that the drugs (mostly the Humira, I don't think the MTX did anything for me) and going gluten free really made the difference. Now I am testing to see if eliminating more potential "baddies" from my diet can get me back to that feeling. It may be a fool's game, but I can't give up unless I hear from others who have tried this that it didn't work. Or if you can tell me that I will have periods of feeling amazing ziplining, rock climbing, and throwing my kids in the air whilst eating chocolate wheat-flour cake and Guinness, then I will consider that my pursuit of the "optimal" diet may be without merit. :) I do miss my Guiness :D

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