Can you relieve your arthritis pain by eliminating gluten from your diet? Some studies have shown that a gluten-free diet can help reduce the inflammation and pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
Although the results are inconclusive, some research suggests that a gluten-free diet has the potential to relieve some symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
What is gluten intolerance?
Gluten intolerance, known as celiac disease (CE), is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when your body attacks the healthy lining of the stomach after eating gluten. This can be found in many foods, such as bread, pasta, baked goods and cereals.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is another autoimmune disorder characterized by joint inflammation, which in turn causes stiffness, joint pain, and reduced joint mobility. This happens when the body attacks its own healthy joint tissues.
RA and EC are common diseases that may have a genetic connection. People with CE can also be diagnosed with other autoimmune diseases, such as RA. Research suggests that people who have not been diagnosed with EC but appear to be sensitive to gluten may experience many gastrointestinal symptoms in addition to autoimmune diseases, including RA.
Although the results are inconclusive, some studies propose that a gluten-free diet has the potential to relieve some symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Although more research is needed, you may want to try a gluten-free diet for a few months to see if your arthritis pain is alleviated.
Gluten is a protein found in cereals such as wheat, barley and rye. Many starchy foods, such as bread, breakfast cereals, cookies, pasta and baked goods contain this protein. It may also appear hidden in other less obvious products, such as soy sauce.
Be sure to read your food labels carefully and be careful with words like malt, which indicate that the product contains gluten. Also, be cautious with non-food products such as vitamins, medicines and even your lip balm, because they may contain gluten.
If you are going to stop eating gluten, it is important to have a healthy and well-balanced diet. Choose cereals rich in fiber and free of gluten, such as brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat and potatoes. Opt for healthy fats present in olive and canola oils, avocado (avocados), walnuts and nut butter.Choose healthy sources of protein, such as skinless fish or chicken.
Consume many fruits and vegetables naturally gluten-free and with important antioxidants along with fiber. Healthy fats, fruits and vegetables provide added value for people suffering from arthritis, as some research has found that increasing the consumption of these foods is associated with a reduction in joint pain and inflammation.
Although more research is needed to evaluate the relationship between gluten intolerance and rheumatoid arthritis, it may be worth trying a healthy gluten-free diet to determine if it helps relieve your arthritis pain.
Before making changes to your diet, discuss your options with your family doctor.
About the author
Alexandra Kaplan, M. Sc. RD, CDN (Certified Nutritionist-Dietitian, for its acronym in English), is a registered dietitian at Montefiore Medical Center, where she covers all inpatient units. Kaplan completed his Master's degree in Clinical Nutrition at New York University, and his practical training at Montefiore Medical Center.
Kaplan holds a bachelor's degree from Cornell University, where he studied human development. He is also a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the New York State Dietetic Association.