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How your diet can help with chronic inflammation

How your diet can help with chronic inflammation

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that causes chronic inflammation in the hands and feet.  It can cause painful swelling and eventually lead to bone erosion and joint deformity.

This disease is more common in women and often develops between the ages of 40-60 years.  Although there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, management of symptoms and joint damage prevention is recommended.

With respect to diet, research shows that certain foods can help fight inflammation, strengthen bones, and boost the immune system.  Conversely, those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity might suffer from symptoms that could be subtle and masked as arthritis.  What is unclear is which came first: the inflammation or the celiac disease/gluten sensitivity.

Allesio Fasano, Director of the Center for Celiac Research at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston says that people who are sensitive to gluten can have symptoms anywhere in the body when partially digested gluten fragments leak from the intestines into the bloodstream.  “In some people, the immune system sees gluten as the enemy and will unleash weapons to attack it, causing inflammation in the intestines as well as in other organs and tissues.”  Eventually this could lead to serious problems outside of the gut, including joint pain and swelling.

For those who do suspect celiac disease, it is critical that gluten should not be eliminated from the diet too early as testing will be inaccurate.  There are also options for gluten sensitivity testing and elimination.  Speak to your doctor or a dietitian for more information about your options.

In addition to considering gluten, following an anti-inflammatory diet that emphasizes leafy vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats is recommended.  Omega-3 fatty acids from olive oils, flax, avocadoes, nuts and seeds can have a very positive effect on arthritis sufferers.  Emphasizing whole grains, either gluten-containing or gluten-free is also beneficial for reducing inflammation.   Following this type of dietary approach for the individual who suffers from inflammation, can be a very effective way to both manage the disorder and prevent further damage.