New findings suggest that a diet high in fruits, vegetables, legumes and certain oils--also known as the "Mediterranean diet"--helps ease symptoms in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
After following a Mediterranean diet for three months, people with rheumatoid arthritis experienced a number of improvements not seen in people following a Western diet, including a decrease in pain, inflammation, disease activity and in the number of swollen joints.
Previous research suggested that more olive oil and cooked vegetables help protect people living in the Mediterranean--who by and large follow a Mediterranean diet--from the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
The current study focused on arthritic patients living in Sweden, none of whom had previously been vegetarians or followers of the Mediterranean diet.
The study findings suggest eating the Mediterranean way can help people regardless of their previous dietary habits.
The researchers plan to continue to follow patients to see if following the Mediterranean diet helps ease symptoms of arthritis for more than three months.
Previous research suggests that the diet has long-term benefits. People who follow a Mediterranean diet tend to eat a lot of fruit, vegetables, and legumes, more fish and less red meat. They also consume a moderate amount of wine, and rely on olive oil as their main source of dietary fat.
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the immune system, for unknown reasons, mistakenly attacks the joints, leading to inflammation, swelling and pain. Over time, this process erodes the bone and soft tissue within the joints.
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