HYDERABAD: Rheumatoid arthritis patients have dietary inadequacy of protein and potassium and they require specific interventions regarding what they must have and why must they not have certain foods to improve their immune system, according to a published study in clinical nutrition. The study carried out on Asian patients found that the deficiency exists due to self-imposed restrictions and also due to the advice of the doctors because of pain and inflammation.
Red meat is often advised against by doctors for rheumatoid arthritis patients and they are asked to switch to lean meats for the requirement of protein.
Dr Sharat Chandra Mouli, senior rheumatologist at KIMS Hospital explained, “For RA patients, improving their immune system through nutrition is important. Hence, we advise them to have dry fruits, fish, lean meats and omega 3 rich foods. But treatment is important and must not be sidelined.” The foods are secondary supplementation which will help reduce pain and inflammation,” the rheumatologist said.
RA is an autoimmune disease where the joints are attacked by the immune system and the pain is one of the most disabling factors of the disease. While clinicians and guidelines for RA focus more on drugs, there is a growing argument that diet also plays an important part but there is lack of data, making it a secondary option.
Nutritionist D. Zeenath Fatima, consultant dietician explained, “Controlling inflammation in fat tissue is very important for RA patients. For this reason, they have to be guided not to eat too much of high fat foods. “It is important that they switch to more of carbohydrates and green leafy vegetables. In doing so, they must also not compromise on their protein intake which has to be rightly supplemented. There is deficiency of protein and that would also lead to weakness and pain.” Experts are of the opinion that the role of diet in rheumatoid arthritis patients must be further evaluated to understand the disease pattern better as patients are often found to restrict foods and switch to medicines and supplements to deal with the management of the disease.