Rheumatoid Arthritis Ra Diet

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a common inflammatory disorder that leads to the destruction of the joints between bones. RA is two to three times more common in women than men.

While all joints are susceptible, rheumatoid arthritis most often affects the small joints in the hands. The treatment strategy for most patients involves the use of of anti-inflammatory drugs, painkillers, disease-modifying drugs (like methotrexate, leflunomide, D-penicillamine, and sulfasalazine) and steroids.

Myths about diet contributing to RA are plentiful, and many are completely unfounded. Two recent studies assessed the effects coffee and probiotics have on rheumatoid arthritis.

Coffee and RA

Does coffee consumption lead to RA? Or, can drinking several cups of coffee per day actually protect against RA? The confusion surrounding the relationship between coffee and rheumatoid arthritis is long standing. In fact, both of these opposing hypotheses have been previously reported by the scientific community. To settle the debate, experts conducted a large study including thousands of subjects over a twenty year period.

The results, recently published in Arthritis and Rheumatism by a group from Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, tracked the consumption of coffee, decaffeinated coffee, tea and other caffeinated beverages among 83,124 women.

The study looked for a relationship between caffeine intake and the development of RA. The women in the study were asked to fill out a questionnaire every four years, beginning in 1980 and ending in 1998, describing their intake of these beverages.

Although four hundred and eighty women in the group developed RA, no correlation was found between their beverage intake and their diagnosis. Consequently, drinking coffee and other caffeinated drinks does not increase the risk of developing RA.

Probiotics

The ingestion of living organisms with the objective of improving one’s health is known as probiotics. The microorganisms most commonly used are beneficial bacteria, such as Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Saccharomyces boulardii. The idea behind probiotics is that the ingestion of certain bacteria can shift the balance of the bacteria present, as in the gut for example, leading to a favorable health outcome.

The results from a study in Finland were published recently in the Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis were treated using Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG), a bacterium often found in dairy products. The study compared several inflammatory parameters between the group treated with LGG and a control group. Although no significant differences were observed in the inflammatory parameters, the LGG-treated subjects reported a subjective improvement. These results should promote further research into the connection between probiotics and RA.