Diet, Rheumatoid Arthritis Connection

Can the pain and discomfort of rheumatoid arthritis be alleviated by diet? In a 12-week study, 17 patients received an experimental diet high in polyunsaturated fat and low in saturated fat with a 1.8 gram daily supplement of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). Twenty patients were put on a control diet with a lower polyunsaturated to saturated fat level and a placebo supplement. The patients were divided randomly into two groups according to sex, drug therapy, class and stage of their illness, and age (less than 50 or over 50). Compliance with the diets was monitored in several ways, including patientsí diet diaries.

The study, reported in "Effects of Manipulation of Dietary Fatty Acids on Clinical Manifestations of Rheumatoid Arthritis," The Lancet, January 26, 1985, showed some interesting results. At 12 weeks, the experimental group suffered less morning stiffness while the number of tender joints was reduced. The control group experienced morning stiffness slightly longer. The number of tender joints decreased, but less than in the experimental group. At follow-up, which was one to two months after stopping the diet, the condition of the experimental group had deteriorated while that of the control group had improved somewhat.


The study. . . showed some interesting results. At 12 weeks, the experimental group suffered less morning stiffness while the number of tender joints was reduced. The control group experienced morning stiffness slightly longer. The number of tender joints decreased, but less than in the experimental group.


The results indicated to the authors that the diet established for the experimental group was beneficial, if only for a span of time around the 12-week visit. Improvement of the condition of the control group during the follow-up period was attributed, possibly, to the use of cooking oils high in polyunsaturates, which they were told to avoid during the study.

Article from NOHA NEWS, Vol. XI, No. 1, Winter 1986, page 2.