Plant based diet to control RA: Has anyone found that a... - NRAS


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Plant based diet to control RA

Sunnyseas profile image

Has anyone found that a plant based diet can reduce the need for meds?

Perhaps difficult to stick to but I'm going to give it a try.

I came across Michael Greger, a Dr who specialises in nutrition and the many health benefits of a plant based diet.

16 Replies

I was on a plant based diet before I got ra !! I'm a vegan many people say that's why I got ra?? Good luck

lily2003 profile image
lily2003 in reply to lornaisobel

My Primary Care Physician (GP) implied the same thing to me when I first suspected I had RA — that perhaps one could reverse autoimmune by stopping being a vegan. Sent me on a tailspin. But it *didn’t* stop me from being vegan and when the rheumatologist finally diagnosed me, he thought my longstanding veganism was possibly a factor into why my symptoms were so mild (almost no visible inflammation) despite a soaring anti-ccp. But who can say? So little is still unknown about autoimmune diseases.

lily2003 profile image
lily2003 in reply to lily2003

I’ll add that I do take my MTX as prescribed. I may not have visible swelling, but I definitely have bone erosions, unfortunately. And, although the rheumy never directly linked my serious bilateral shoulder pain to RA, it has never reappeared since I started the MTX.

When first diagnosed I went plant based. Also gave up gluten, sugar etc. I'm afraid for me personally it didn't help at all. I lost weight I couldn't afford to lose and felt really poorly. The only thing that helped me was/is medication. However, RA is very individual and my experience does not mean it will be the same for you. I think you'll only know by trial and error what helps you.

You will find many posts about various diets and their benefits (or otherwise) if you look in the search box. The general conclusion, though, is that a well balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, is helpful for most long term conditions.Personally, I went through the tedious and difficult process of an exclusion diet many years ago. The only trigger I found, for me, was meat, but I'm not sure if it is the meat itself or other substances which are in the meat these days. I was brought up as a vegetarian so it may be, as well, that my body was not adapted to it.

I can see from the many posts about this that people have identified various foods which they feel are triggers. It looks more as if these triggers are specific to those people rather than being generalisable to everyone.

But feelings tend to run high on this subject and there are people who are evangelical in their proposals of particular diet.

You can try any diet you like…but don’t stop taking your RA meds!

A lot of us who have had RA for many, many years are living very comfortably….most of us eat what we enjoy,& could be considered in remission….but we still take our RA drugs.

Hi Sunnyseas, I do believe plant based diet or in general sensible diet does help. I don't think you can go without meds though. But at least you might be able to help your body tolerate the meds as well as make them work better.I have found reducing sugar, dairy & wheat helps me, if I stay away from them I can tell the difference in couple of days. Unfortunately, I am not very good at controlling myself. Chocolate, Cheese and Yeast bread are my worst foods.

I am mostly vegetarian, but do eat Chicken and eggs once in a while. I noticed I react badly to eggs with upset stomach and indigestion for a day or two, but not to chicken. Isn't that weird?

Juicing works for me too, ABC (Apple Beet Carrot juice) & Celery-Cucumber are my miracle juices. I replace Breakfast with one and Mid afternoon snack with one. SInce I started juicing my Liver markers have improved. Also intermittent fasting has helped a lot. You can find lot of info on that if you google it or look up on Youtube.

I don't blame you for trying to find ways to reduce medicine dependency, I keep doing that from time to time. The meds we take are scary at times but necessary. I can't imagine where I would be right now if I didn't take Mtx or Pred.

VeronicaF profile image
VeronicaF in reply to ketiv74

This is me, cheese and chocs give me an upset stomach straight away ,wheat my stomach is in agony and I have upset stomach and it brings on a flare and also rice and fryed foods

its hard because I love these things

I tend to live on oats for breakfast, veg chicken or turkey or salmon

Id love to eat loads more things but everything has wheat in it or rice

any suggestions on things more to eat where it doesn't effect me would be great?

Living a healthy life can only help. When first diagnosed I did the whole lot, and although I became healthier as a result it did nothing to improve my actual RA symptoms. But I believe it has helped my tolerate the drugs with no side effects, and has helped them work.

But not just diet to me, also daily exercise, proper sleep, getting to a normal weight, and avoiding unhealthy habits (like smoking). I eat very well, mainly plants, but if I want a doughnut full of cream I have it!

Years ago, when I was first diagnosed with RA, I tried something similar to the Paddison Program. While I lost ten pounds (which, in my case, was a bonus), the diet had no effect on my RA. That said, I do try to eat healthily.

By all means eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, seeds, nuts, wholegrain bread, pulses, and so on. Meat is not necessary if you don't want it. But please don't believe that any diet will cure this disease.

A good healthy diet will improve your general health and well-being, and that in itself will help you cope with the disease - keep as fit as possible, and maintain a healthy weight. Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet.

Don't stop taking your prescribed medication. Talk to your consultant about it; explain your fears, but do listen to those with long experience at treating this disease,

ElizabethW profile image
ElizabethW in reply to bienassis

I think diet probably helps, but we need meds for this disease.

About 10 years ago, I had a wonderful remission that lasted at least a year. I was off meds and had not seen my rheumy. Of course it didn't last, and when the RA returned, it really came back hard. I had been thinking about trying naturopathic medicine, so I did. Under her guidance, I took fish oil and turmeric, and did an elimination diet for 6 months, starting with few different foods and carefully adding more each week. It did not help! The thing that finally brought me back to a reasonable state of well being was going back to the rheumatologist, and getting back on the methotrexate.

bienassis profile image
bienassis in reply to ElizabethW

Well said! Yes, aren't remissions wonderful. I have been very fortunate on the whole. Although diagnosed at a time when nothing much could be done, I was fortunate to enjoy long remissions once introduced to DMARDs. On azathioprine I was in remission for 10 years, only having to stop the drug on development of a small skin cancer, quickly treated. Next came methotrexate which kept me in remission for 22 years until last year, when a massive flare made me a candidate for a biologic - which I take in combination with methotrexate.

During the remissions it didn't occur to me to stop taking the drugs. No doubt if I had been tempted my experience would have been much the same as yours. As for Naturopathic Medicine, I had never heard of anything like that when I started out on this trail in 1967, although it would certainly have been around, I'm sure. Now, we are bombarded with all sorts of claims that "cures" are possible for just about everything if only we put our trust in this or that herbal mixture. I've even heard that hypnotism can do wonders for diseases generally considered incurable.

Well, just keep taking your present medicine and keep up a healthy life-style - with the occasional lapse for a bit of fun. We need to laugh at ourselves sometimes and not treat life like a trial, even if it seems like that at times.

Keep smiling!

ElizabethW profile image
ElizabethW in reply to bienassis

Wise words. Thank you. It sounds like you have been at this for a very long time.

I started out with RA in 1982. I have learned some things along the way, one being that I can't just quit my meds and walk away from it, another that no matter what I hear about herbal cures, diet etc., take it with a grain of salt, and know that these things will have minimal impact on the disease itself. It's a beast, and we need good medical care to deal with it.

bienassis profile image
bienassis in reply to ElizabethW

So right, EW! You are thinking sensibly, but not forgetting life is for living. Not an easy combination at times.

You have been living with this disease for quite a while and are aware of all the traps out there! With that experience under your belt you are well equipped.

Good luck and look after yourself,

bienassis x

Thank you so much everyone for letting me know your experiences & thoughts on this. I’ll stick to the medication prescribed & try to keep to a healthy diet. I think anything too extreme probably isn’t sustainable long term.

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