Whether you are following your rheumatologist’s symptom treatment plan, looking for alternative treatments, or searching for a cure (or all three), I believe the priority in each case should be to adopt a health promoting diet and lifestyle. I think this fundamental step is often overlooked because of our cultural reliance on medical interventions and/or our often misplaced belief that a supplement or other short-term singular treatment can bring about a cure.
After decades of research and experience, I’m convinced that rheumatoid arthritis and many other chronic diseases are primarily lifestyle diseases and that they can often be successfully treated and even cured with diet and other lifestyle changes. That’s why I want to focus attention on this important point – that a health promoting diet and lifestyle coupled with the identification of and removal of RA triggers/causes, should be the priority for those seeking to relieve, halt and hopefully reverse their rheumatoid arthritis.
Don’t Make This Mistake When Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Whenever we become ill whether it’s a headache, a cold, or a chronic disease like rheumatoid arthritis, we seem to be pre-programmed to believe that there will be a drug or a supplement that will fix the problem. If the illness isn’t too serious we go to the chemist or a health food shop to find an over-the-counter drug or supplement to provide a quick fix because our lives are too busy and too important to allow our health problems to get in the way. Likewise if our illness is more serious, we go to the doctor and expect her/him to prescribe a drug and tell us that everything will be okay and that we can carry on with our life as normal. This pre-programmed response, this expectation is not an approach that will work with rheumatoid arthritis or any other chronic disease.
Currently, I don’t believe there is a pill, supplement, drug or other medical intervention that will cure rheumatoid arthritis or any other chronic disease. When it comes to the treatment of chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, it seems to me that the whole of the medical profession/industry (including most of the supplement industry) is focused entirely on treating the symptoms, not searching for the causes. There is no quick fix in the form of a pill. As I mentioned above, I’m convinced that most chronic diseases are lifestyle diseases and I believe they are primarily caused by many years of poor nutrition, poor sleep and other detrimental lifestyle habits and actions.
After many decades of research and experience I’m now convinced that the successful treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and hopefully the cure, begins with major lifestyle changes particularly in terms of food and nutrition. Relieving the symptoms, maintaining physiological functions, and slowing the progression of chronic disease with drugs (and certain supplements) is sometimes essential and life-saving, but it’s not likely that these interventions will ever lead to good health or a cure.
To successfully treat and hopefully cure a chronic disease like rheumatoid arthritis the chronic causes need to be addressed first as a priority – the most important of these is the disease promoting Standard UK (SUK) or Standard American Diet (SAD). This has to be changed to a health promoting diet i.e. a whole food plant-based diet low in added oil, salt, and sugar in order for any other treatments, interventions, or other lifestyle improvements (including the removal of additional causes or triggers of RA) to be truly effective.
Having emphasised that underlying point, I’d like to go into a bit more detail about how a whole food plant-based diet high in fibre with a substantial raw food component is possibly the best diet for treating rheumatoid arthritis and for removing some of the main causes.
Removing the Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis
There are many potential causes of rheumatoid arthritis and many potential triggers that can make symptoms worse or tip the balance into a permanent disease state. However, as I’ve mentioned in other posts, I firmly believe that these causes or triggers require a weakened body and immune system in order to manifest and create a diagnosable state of rheumatoid arthritis. A healthy body, gut and consequently immune system can resist these causes and triggers much of the time and if rheumatoid arthritis does take hold, a healthy body can recover much more rapidly once the cause is removed. I believe this to be the case with many if not all other chronic diseases.
I’m convinced that animal foods and their derivatives are the greatest contributors to the development of rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic diseases. They weaken our bodies and trigger unbalanced responses from our immune systems. I think we should remove these devastating disease causing foods and replace them with a health promoting whole food plant-based diet. A whole food plant-based diet can also successfully treat and often reverse type II diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, obesity, skin problems and many other chronic diseases. Please watch this life-saving video by Dr Michael Greger M.D. FACLM of NutritionFacts.org:
Start by removing as many of the causes of rheumatoid arthritis as possible i.e. the inflammatory components of the diet; meat, dairy, eggs, trans-fats, added oils, gluten (initially), and processed junk foods in general. Try to avoid anything that can damage your gut or your gut flora (unless absolutely essential for medical reasons) for example non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, indigestion remedies, alcohol etc. Although it can be extremely difficult for many people; try to get more sleep, try to do regular cardiovascular exercise, try to get some sunshine each day (maybe 10 to 20 minutes depending upon where you live and the time of year – but be careful!), and try to reduce stress if at all possible.
It’s important to look for environmental toxins too; check for and treat any mold or damp in your home, filter your tap water, wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly, use natural toothpaste or make your own, don’t wear deodorants if possible and generally try to eliminate or reduce all the various makeup, lotions, potions, perfumes and other carcinogenic allergy forming chemical cocktails that most people expose themselves to on a daily basis.
There are many other potential triggers and causes of rheumatoid arthritis but in the real world we can only do our best to remove the main ones and as many of the other potential triggers or causes as possible. A couple more to look into which could affect some people but where they may not be aware of the connection, are tooth/gum infections, and parasite infections.
Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis
The most important and effective first step in treating rheumatoid arthritis also helps to remove many of the causes mentioned above, that first step being to adopt a whole food plant-based diet low in added oils, salt, and refined sugar. A whole food plant-based diet will do so much to support a healthy body and a healthy immune system and help to treat the symptoms and promote healing. Specifically, I found that eating a really large amount of leafy greens (spinach, rocket and parsley) and berries (strawberries, blueberries and blackberries) is particularly beneficial. The easiest way to achieve this is to blend everything into a huge green smoothie – yum!
There are some extremely important macro dietary changes that need to take place in order to help treat rheumatoid arthritis (and I believe the same changes would help with other chronic diseases). For example, it’s extremely important to obtain enough energy from your diet each day to efficiently drive your immune system, your muscles, your brain, your heart and many other systems. The best way to do this is to centre the diet around whole food starches such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, beans, rice, whole grains (apart from gluten-containing grains – at least initially), bananas and dates etc.
Whole food fibre is another essential macro dietary component for anyone suffering with rheumatoid arthritis (whole food fibre is anti-inflammatory). Insoluble fibre holds water and adds bulk to the stool. Soluble fibre acts as a prebiotic food source for beneficial gut bacteria, this in turn helps to stabilise our immune system since 70 to 80% of our immune system resides in our gut. Whole food fibre provides many general health benefits too including helping to prevent bowel/colon cancer, removing excess cholesterol, promoting regular bowel movements (essential for removing toxins rapidly), reducing cardiovascular disease and helping to prevent obesity.
There are two other macro dietary components that I’d like to mention and emphasise, one is water and the other is whole raw food. Water is essential for everyone of course but I believe the majority of people are usually dehydrated. Being well hydrated helps to prevent cardiovascular problems, it helps with concentration and focus (relieving fatigue), and it helps to flush out toxins. As a rheumatoid arthritis sufferer I found that drinking plenty of water throughout the day increases my energy and reduces physical inflammation and stiffness. Since good hydration is essential for many organs to function well, it’s extremely important for general health and again, helps to reduce rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and promote healing.
Finally, I’d like to emphasise that a raw food component is an essential part of any arthritis healing diet. Currently I’m eating approximately 30 to 40% of my food raw in the form of leafy greens, berries and other fruits, and seeds. I also eat dried fruit such as dates, prunes, and figs.
There is huge anecdotal evidence that 100% raw food diet can heal rheumatoid arthritis (which I personally believe is probable) but I can’t find much in the way of scientific studies to confirm this. I would like to increase the raw food component of my diet but here in the UK much of the year, most of the fruits that are available are not ripe and even organic versions have little flavour much of the time. In order to obtain enough energy I feel that I need to eat plenty of cooked starches as a base with some steamed veg and mushrooms for extra fibre and minerals etc.
For me there’s no doubt that raw food is incredibly healing and health promoting. It provides a concentrated source of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fibre, electrolyte infused water, chlorophyll and much more. I believe that a combination of cooked foods and raw foods provides the best method of obtaining the maximum number of dietary nutrients required for health and healing. One of the reasons I say this is because we are what we absorb, not what we eat as such. For example cooking certain foods increases nutrient availability, whilst certain nutrients such as vitamin C are better obtained from raw foods.
Recovering From Rheumatoid Arthritis – Dietary Changes Are Essential
- After decades of research, experimentation and experience, I haven’t found a supplementary approach that had any significant effect on my rheumatoid arthritis whilst I was continuing to eat fish, dairy and eggs. Once I adopted a whole food plant-based diet, some supplementary nutrients began to have more of a beneficial effect.
- After many consultations with doctors and specialists over many years, I never found a treatment in the form of oral medication that was bearable let alone effective and certainly non provided any hope of a cure. Steroid injections directly into joints were extremely effective at reducing pain and inflammation, and increasing range of movement but at a very heavy price – accelerated joint destruction.
- Rheumatoid arthritis treatment and recovery begins with a healing diet i.e. a whole food plant-based diet rich in phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, fibre, water and energy. A diet that eliminates meat, dairy and eggs and all processed junk food (animal foods are generally inflammatory while most whole plant foods are anti-inflammatory). From this base the search for additional treatments and improvements can continue more successfully.