The myth that meat and dairy have no detrimental effect on the severity of rheumatoid arthritis (some misguidedly claiming that it may even be beneficial) is still prevalent in mainstream media, social media and amongst medical and nutritional professionals and authors. This is a pernicious and dangerous myth that needs to be exposed as such, and rheumatoid arthritis sufferers need to be aware that meat and dairy consumption is strongly linked to the development of rheumatoid arthritis and will continue to worsen the disease in those who are already suffering from RA.
Dairy is by far the worst offender when it comes to causing and contributing to rheumatoid arthritis (and other chronic diseases). I’ve already covered the disease causing/promoting effects of dairy in detail, in the following post: Dairy and Rheumatoid Arthritis – Cow’s Milk as a Cause of Chronic Diseases For the remainder of ‘this’ post I’d like to discuss the disease causing/promoting effects of meat (including eggs).
The consumption of meat actively causes inflammation within the body. Processed meat directly raises CRP levels. The last thing a rheumatoid arthritis sufferer needs is more inflammation, our diet should be focused on reducing inflammation and this is what a whole food plant-based diet low in added salt, oil, and sugar will do.
To assist in treating and reversing rheumatoid arthritis our diet needs to be very high in antioxidants. Meat contains very few antioxidants when compared to whole plant foods and is therefore of no benefit in this regard.
Our gut microbiome plays a huge role in maintaining and regulating our immune system. We need to feed and diversify our friendly gut bacteria and fungi in order to reduce rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and calm our overactive immune system. Only whole plant foods can provide the necessary fibre in order to achieve this (meat contains no fibre).
Reducing the burden on organs such as the liver, kidneys, pancreas (and other endocrine glands), and improving their efficiency/effectiveness is essential for the rapid filtering and removal of waste products, and for the regulation of hormones such as cortisol and testosterone which have a big influence on inflammation control. The consumption of meat (especially when cooked at high temperatures) floods the body with a whole range of toxic substances and waste products which have to be broken down, filtered and removed by organs such as the liver and kidneys. This requires additional energy, time, enzymes, blood supply, oxygen, nutrients (including essential minerals) and so on, which prevents these organs from performing their normal function of maintaining and promoting health and forces them into a defensive disease-prevention mode.
In rheumatoid arthritis sufferers, the delivery of nutrients to the joints and the removal of waste from the joints is of critical importance in the direction of the disease process. More effective and efficient nutrient delivery and waste removal improves joint function and tips the balance towards healing and recovery. However, if nutrient delivery and waste removal becomes ineffective and inefficient, this then leads to further joint damage and a worsening of the disease. These processes depend upon good circulation and good lymph drainage, meat consumption has a detrimental effect on both. Meat (with its saturated fat) increases cholesterol, triglycerides and TMAO; causes inflammation and ‘sludge blood’; leading to atherosclerosis and thus poorer circulation.
Poultry and processed meats contain large amounts of salt (and often sugar) which directly causes and promotes inflammation. Further, when meat is cooked and eaten even more salt (and sugar) is generally added for flavouring in the form of: tomato ketchup, seasonings and sauces etc.
Rheumatoid arthritis sufferers often have a leaky gut which allows certain food proteins and bacterial endotoxins (and many other components) to pass from the gut into the bloodstream potentially triggering an immune response to these foreign bodies. Meat and dairy contain certain proteins which closely resemble the proteins on the surfaces of some of our own organs and tissues. When these proteins leak into the bloodstream and our immune system mounts a defence against them, this can then lead to a process called ‘molecular mimicry‘. This is where our own immune system begins to see the proteins on the surface of our organs and other tissues (such as joint cartilage) as foreign invaders and mounts an attack against them, programmed by the previously leaked meat and dairy proteins.
In conclusion; if you have rheumatoid arthritis avoid meat and dairy products. There are many more reasons for this apart from the ones I’ve mentioned above, for example meat contains parasites, live pathogenic bacteria, bacterial and viral endotoxins, blood, pus, cancerous growths, faeces, antibiotics, environmental pollutants, heavy metals, cholesterol, saturated fat, trans fats and the list goes on for quite some time… All of these pathogens and toxins either promote or directly cause disease especially in the case of rheumatoid arthritis. If you seriously want to reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and entertain the possibility of recovery/remission, ditch meat and dairy and adopt a whole food plant-based diet low in added salt, oil, and sugar.
“Cow” image is public domain