Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition, which means it’s caused by the immune system attacking healthy body tissue. It’s not yet known what triggers this condition but research suggests certain dietary decisions may play a role in its development. A review published in the journal Reumatologia found apple juice to be a potential instigator.
The review researchers cited a cross-sectional study involving 1209 adults aged 20–30.
The study found that participants consuming apple juice at least five times a week had a three times higher risk of developing arthritis.
The following beverages also increased the risk by threefold:
- Drinks rich in fructose such as high-fructose corn syrup
- Sweetened soft drinks.
A surprising finding to spring out of the review was that “no significant correlation between alcohol consumption and RA [rheumatoid arthritis] was discovered in the Västerbotten Intervention Program cohort, which included 386 RA patients, matched to 1,886 healthy controls”.
The Västerbotten Intervention Programme (VIP) targets non-communicable diseases (a disease that is not transmissible directly from one person to another) in the adult population of the Västerbotten county in northern Sweden.
Moreover, in this study no significant relationship between different dietary groups and rheumatoid arthritis was found.
However, the authors allow that the results might have been influenced by low alcohol consumption in the studied group overall and other methodological issues.
Beneficial dietary studies
Elsewhere, research has linked specific dietary decisions to improvements in arthritis.
One study found that over a 15-year period, men and women who consumed the most nuts had a 51 percent lower risk of dying from an inflammatory disease compared with those who ate the fewest nuts.
Another study found that subjects with lower levels of vitamin B6 – found in most nuts – had higher levels of inflammatory markers.
As the Arthritis Foundation (AF) explains, “nuts are jam-packed with inflammation-fighting monounsaturated fat”.
And though they’re relatively high in fat and calories, studies show noshing on nuts promotes weight loss because their protein, fibre and monounsaturated fats are satiating.”
In addition to eating well, you should also engage in regular physical activity to help manage arthritis.
This may seem surprising if you’re suffering from painful joint symptoms, but the reverse is true.
The NHS explains: “Exercising regularly can help relieve stress, help keep your joints mobile, and strengthen the muscles supporting your joints.
“Exercise can also help you lose weight if you’re overweight, which can put extra strain on your joints.”
According to the health body, it is important to find the best activities and the right balance for you.
“It’s usually best to increase the amount of exercise you do gradually.”
Evidence also suggests sleep is just as important as having a healthy diet and doing regular exercise, notes Versus Arthritis.
Among other things, good sleep can help you manage pain better, adds the health body.