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There is no special rheumatoid arthritis diet; however, there are certain foods and supplements that may be helpful. One study found that the traditional Mediterranean diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, beans, and oily fish like salmon and sardines was helpful in lessening joint pain and stiffness in female patients who ate the diet for six months. These foods contain compounds that help control inflammation. Olive oil, for example, has been shown to lower the amount of chemicals in the body that cause inflammation, in much the same way that ibuprofen does. And fish oils with omega 3 fatty acids have shown benefit in some short-term studies. Antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants that can also help reduce inflammation.
While some people believe gluten can worsen rheumatoid arthritis, there is no evidence to support this. However, those who are sensitive to gluten (found in wheat, barley and rye) should avoid eating it in order to avoid bowel inflammation. It is often advised that rheumatoid arthritis patients taking methotrexate should supplement with folic acid, a B vitamin that helps your body make red blood cells, to ward off the drug’s gastrointestinal side effects including nausea, vomiting and mouth ulcers. Calcium and vitamin D are important additions to the diet, especially for people taking corticosteroids, which can cause bone loss. Curcumin, which is found in turmeric, an ingredient in curry, may be helpful in reducing symptoms. The benefits of cartilage supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin remain unproven.