National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society

Anyone tried an elimination diet to see if different foods effect their RA?

I have been taken off methotrexate just now as my liver is suffering and wondered if anyone had tried to eliminate foods which might aggravate their arthritis or had tried a full elimination diet. Looking for an alternative approach while I have no other choice really!!

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13 replies

    julieporter
    julieporter

    The only thing that i can say makes me worse is bananas-if i eat one within half an hour i'm in agony don't know why? I used to have one every break at work for ages until it clicked that i always felt ill after eating them so stopped.You could try eliminating foods you suspect to see if it makes a difference.
    I did ask my rhuemy nurse about diet and she just said to eat as healthy diet as possible and try not to put any weight on - easier said than done when you on steroids and less mobile but i do try
    Julie xx

    Beverley72
    Beverley72

    Yes I have, I have found that eggs, yogurt, white bread and beef affect my RA ! That's not to say it would be the same for someone else but what I started to do was write down what I'd ate 1-2 days previous to the flare ups I was having and then started to cut the items out. I take calcium tablets with cutting out alot of diary substituted beef mince with pork and eat wholemeal bread. It's weird but I can have eggs in something just not on there own. Ie Yorkshire pudding I'm fine with but boiled egg or scrambled and my ankle throbs !

    Hope this helps

    Beverley

    mads
    mads

    I am getting a herbalist that i know to prepare me an elimination diet as i can't seem to manage it myself. Most of the food plans that are publicised to help ra are very strict and i just can't keep it up.

    essexgirl
    essexgirl

    when i was first diagnosed with RA they also tested me for celiac and that too came back positive ... my doctor said they are related
    debs x

    mads
    mads

    that makes sense - a lot of the autoimmune diseases are directly related back to intolerances to food products

    Pollywollydoodle
    Pollywollydoodle

    Thanks everyone for your answers, I'm fairly newly diagnosed and just looking for a way to help the symptoms as the methotrexate wasn't really doing much after 11 weeks anyway when they took me off it as my ALT was high. I know I already have a severe problem with egg, so it makes sense that other stuff might be a problem too. Will try to eliminate foods one by one I think. Thanks
    Polly xx

    Loret-deleted
    Loret-deleted

    Hang in here, Polly. I do have a list of anti-inflammatory foods, mostly veggies which have already been approved by the Athritis Foundation. Which means they have been researched and tested before the AF recommends them. Within the next 24 hrs. I will try to blog with the list. It is very easy to follow, no limits on anything!

    Trish53
    Trish53

    Along the same lines did anyone, like me, experience increasing food intollerances in the years prior to being diagnosed with RA? I feel sure there's some connection, but this has been dismissed by my Rheumy nurse. Like Mads, I've tried to follow elimination diets but I slip up after a day or two, as the suspect items like gluten etc are hidden in so many foods!!

    TildaT
    TildaT

    I eliminated wheat and don't touch bread or wheat flour even now 10 months since I begun because avoiding it has helped with my gallstones and digestive system a lot - not sure it makes any difference to joints though.

    My inflammatory markers are much lower than my orignal ones and I don't suffer with my knees or ankles nearly so much now so I believe these joints have been helped by my losing over 2 stone since April '11 - but I still have to lose 2 stone more and it's such a struggle even with eating very carefully and getting regular exercise.

    I asked my GP about food intollerances and RA recently and he was very sceptical but he did say that food with a high uric acid content definitely should be avoided for gout sufferers and this might be true of RA also. So I experimented by avoiding nuts for 2 weeks and it made no difference at all. I dropped dairy too and was worried about the lack of calcium but my GP said as I'd tried dropping it with no improvement to my RA I should take it again for the calcium so I use calcium enriched soya milk and yoghourt and cottage cheese again now. My OT said she would find me a book of food and pain and she said that most GPs are sceptical and my friend who is a GP always looks a bit amused at my food related ideas. She and my own GP both feel that food intollerance is overrated and most people should just try and eat a balanced diet low in saturated fat etc. Another friend was consultant dietician here until recently and she said chocolate makes her joints ache but she wasn't aware of any specific foods that helped or worsened RA. I think the main problem for me is the amount of time proper food elimination takes up - especially if you are running a household with teenagers who are faddish eaters too! TTx

    Halo_Jones
    Halo_Jones

    Hi,
    I'm always really careful about recommending diets/treatments/exercise as I know it drove me mad to be told by people "cut out dairy", "go swimming", "eat more spinach" as if it would be some sort of miracle cure, but as you asked, I cannot recommend "Diet and Arthritis" by Dr Gail Darlington highly enough. Without hyperbole it saved my life.

    In the book she goes through some common misconceptions about diet and arthritis (such as the idea that it's the same intolerances for all of us, ie; all of us would feel better if we gave up eating tomatoes), breaks the huge group "arthritis" down into its constituent parts, and then focuses in on RA in particular. She is honest: food intolerances DO play a part in RA, but not for every RA case, and you're more likely to get a good result if you're seronegative. Over the 20 years that she's been running elimination diets at Epsom General Hospital (she's a rheumy) 70% of her RA patients have managed to control their disease though avoiding certain foods specific to them. I had nothing to lose by giving it a try, and so followed the elimination plan. You eliminate EVERYTHING other then carrots, sweet potatoes, bottled water, salt, turkey, and mangoes for 7-10 days. If at the end of that you feel better you start adding foods back in one at a time according to a list and checking for any responses. If you don't feel better you change to another group of foods for 7-10 days, still not better then you don't have an intolerance and go back to eating normally. After research I do believe this is the only way to do it, just cutting out one food at a time doesn't give you a clear picture, especially if you're intolerant to more than one thing!

    In my case, after 10 days I was able to walk (painfully, but still!) into the kitchen to get my bottled water, unscrew the top, lift it to my mouth, and drink. 10 days before I was almost completely immobile from the jaw joint down and seriously planning suicide after over 6 months of very sudden immobility. (I was an athlete before an "explosive onset".) I found my intolerance was gluten a few weeks later - within a few hours I was back on my back and staggered by how much of a difference it made.

    It is tough to do, as you CANNOT cheat, this isn't like a regular diet where just a sip of coffee or a bite of chocolate can't really hurt. You need to commit fully to staying on track whilst you work out what your intolerance is (if you have one), but believe me IT IS WORTH IT. You either find out within 20 days that you don't have an intolerance, or find out that you do and then spend a few months finding out what it is.

    I know you can get the book on Amazon, and it's a one time cost as she isn't selling anything (no diet plans or special food or any of that). Know I've gone on a bit, but I cannot speak highly enough of this book and her honest common-sense approach; it's not flashy, it doesn't promise a cure, but IT WORKS. Hope you manage to try it, and strange as it may sound, in the nicest way I hope you find you have an intolerance and can help control your RA through it! Best of luck. x

    Trish53
    Trish53

    Wow! Thank you. This is soooo helpful to me!!
    I have always been sure that food intollerances have played a big part in my RA (especially fruit for some reason, which I used to eat a lot of until 12 years ago!) and, even though I have raised it time and time again at my GP/clinic/hospital appointments, it's always dismissed with a bemused smile! Therefore I've not been able to get any guidance, other than to follow a 'balanced diet'. I've tried to eliminate foods myself, but always 'slip' up very quickly.
    I will order the book and give it a try. At least if it doesn't work then I'll know for certain.
    x

    Pollywollydoodle
    Pollywollydoodle

    Hi Halo,
    Co incidentally, I have just bought this book! Am starting to read it - so far it is impressive and I am seriously thinking of trying the elimination diet you talked about. The only thing is that it is very limited and I'm trying to convince myself I can do it as there is no point being half-hearted if you want proper answers!!

    I'm glad to hear that it's worked out for you and it gives me hope as all I seem to be doing at the moment is getting worse. Thanks,
    Polly

    USARA
    USARA

    Yes, the RA establishment does not recognize the role that elimination diets or any diets have in RA treatment, but the fact is that thousands of people experience great relief, and many even cure RA, by following strict, low-fat vegan diets, often gluten free as well.

    Please read about Dr. McDougall in the US, and Clint's Cure in Australia, Claudette Duchesne in Chile and any naturopath would probably back this up with plenty of evidence. I am not saying it works for everyone, but I was diagnosed 2 years ago, and have not taken any meds for 1 month and I am OK. I started a vegan diet 4 months ago and I have experienced HUGE relief.

    Aside from diet changes, you must make some deep psychological and physical changes: maybe therapy, yoga, biking, and definitely SAUNA daily, or sun baths, cold water showers to alternate with heat. This has been the single greatest help for me.

    There isn't one-cure fits all, but there is a way not to live in RA hell, and it does begin with dietary and life habit changes. It is a profound disease of the body and the mind. Never underestimate the power of both to bring you back to health!!!

    YOU CAN DO IT!!!


    Some valuable links:

    http://www.drmcdougall.com/index.html

    www.clintscure.com

    http://www.claudetteduchesne.cl/

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