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Feeding the Rheuma
Autoimmune disease and nutrition are so intrinsically linked. But you don’t have to go see a holistic dietician or have a holistic nutritionist degree to work out the best diet for your condition. You can put your autoimmune nutritionist hat on to improve your RA symptoms and I will show you how.
I have written about diet before but this time I thought I’d take a different approach and go into the topic in a bit more depth. My previous article about diet was more about whether or not you could ‘cure’ Rheumatoid Arthritis with diet. It’s a pretty contentious issue! If you want to read that article, you can do so here.
Clog or Cleanse
Let me categorically state that I absolutely believe that diet plays a huge role in our health. It plays a pivotal role in everyone’s health regardless of whether you have autoimmune conditions or not. Food is a 2-way street: You can use it to damage your body or you can use food as functional medicine to support your body. You don’t need to seek out an autoimmune nutritionist to tell you that when you have any form of the autoimmune diseases out there, having a healthy diet is more important than ever.
What is the best diet for Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Before you go on an epic autoimmune diet research, be aware that as with any autoimmunity condition, there is no one size fits all. If you surveyed ten thousand people with an autoimmune disease, you will get an even split with those that have seen success and those that have not. Many have found success with keto, others with Auto-Immune Protocol and others with gluten free. This is when you need to become your own autoimmune nutritionist. You really don’t know until you have given each of those a good solid attempt.
Be your own Autoimmune Nutritionist!
One thing that I can say for sure, is that you need to find your triggers. You can go full vegan with great success and still find that the humble potato will turn you into the tin man. So my number 1 tip before you start on ANY diet to improve your RA symptoms, is to find your triggers. You can do this a number of ways but the best way is to use a symptoms tracker. I have a free one you can use here. Others opt for the elimination diet which is also a good system. There are also people that do food allergy tests but I wouldn’t recommend that because you’re not looking for an allergy as such. It is also not entirely reliable and can be expensive.
This is simply when you record everything you consume and any effects you experience. By monitoring the intake and the reaction, a pattern will emerge and you will be able to identify the culprit that is causing you problems.
This approach is a little more complex but it is very effective. An elimination diet is cutting out a food group for a period of about a month and then reintroducing the foods to see if there are any reactions.
The main food groups that are usually eliminated are sugar, dairy, meat, nightshades and gluten. Unfortunately, you don’t have to have celiac disease to react to gluten.
The best way to do an elimination diet is to use Dr. Amy Myer’s meal plan. If you wish to make any purchases off her site, you can use my discount code MALY10 for a $10 discount. You can read up about Dr. Amy Myer’s here.
As we are all biochemically diverse, there is no definitive answer for how long the elimination phases. For me personally, I get a reaction the very next day, in others it can take a few days.
A sure bet
As a general rule, those with auto-immune disease should be eliminating foods known to cause inflammation. In addition, you should be providing your body with high anti inflammatory foods. Also look to include foods with good quality fatty acids that will boost your immune system. I aim to eat wholefoods to get all the good vitamins and minerals as opposed to taking supplements for autoimmune disease but I do have supplements on hand when my immune system needs a boost.
You may have heard of the Paddison program which was created by a fellow RA warrior. Clint Paddison has developed a program that has helped countless RA warriors successfully manage their symptoms. I have not personally tried or done the program but I have heard nothing but success stories from those who have completed the program. It is however a VERY intense program. If you have the willpower then I would certainly recommend you try it. You can read some testimonials here.
Fasting for autoimmune disease
I am a big supporter of fasting and I have seen great improvement in my RA because of it. I also recommend it when people ask me how to lose weight with autoimmune disease.
Fasting does not necessarily mean going without food. I am a big fan of both intermittent fasting as well as juice fasting. I do these periodically when I feel that my body needs a detox.
Diet & Exercise: Match Made in Healthy Heaven
Don’t forget that a good diet is a great compliment to an exercise regime. If you haven’t yet checked it out, I have a stretch and exercise program for RA here!
Plant-based Diet for Autoimmune Disease
Currently, I’m giving the vegan diet for autoimmune disease a good solid attempt. It’s been 3 months now. My motivation for this was to be more environmentally friendly. Helping to save the planet is really important to me. I was not really doing plant-based diet for my RA. But why not hit two birds with one stone?
Top foods for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Green leafy vegetables
Fermented foods and drinks
Spices: Ginger, Turmeric & Garlic
You can’t make friends with salad!
As a lover of food, I know how daunting it can be to change dietary habits. But as I’ve learnt in my journey, not only with RA but also with weight loss, healthy food can be absolutely delicious! I’m going to sound old when I say this but there was a time when healthy food was nothing to write home about. Now however, there is so much variety available that you will be spoiled for choice whether you are going vegan or if you’re celiec.
Meal Planning Resource
Another fantastic resource is Dr. Amy Myer’s meal planning and shopping guide. You can try it out for only $9. Use my $10 discount code MALY10 and you’ll get it for free. This comes with over 100 recipes for a range of different diet protocols.