vegetarian and vegan diets improve inflammation and rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is common and potentially crippling. Pharmaceutical treatments are costly and have serious side effects. What if the solution was just a dietary change away?

An intriguing recent research review has uncovered lots of promise that a vegetarian diet could be a huge help to people suffering the potentially debilitating pain of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

The review found that excess weight and diets that include meat and dairy make inflammation and RA worse, while vegetarian diets make them better. Diets high in fat and meat elevate all kinds of inflammatory markers, including C-reactive protein, interleukin-6 and homocysteine; diets high in fruit and grain lower them. Studies prove that vegetarian and vegan diets significantly lower C-reactive protein.

Vegan and vegetarian diets have been shown to significantly improve the symptoms of RA, including joint pain, stiffness and tenderness, swelling, limitations to function and grip strength. Diets high in meat and protein, on the other hand, are significantly associated with RA.

Several studies show that diets rich in fruits, vegetables and fiber help you lose weight—important for treating RA—and reduce pain and inflammation in people with RA.

Increasing monounsaturated fat and decreasing saturated fats improves RA symptoms, including pain and physical function. High fat meals send markers of inflammation and free radical damage soaring; reducing saturated fat drops them.

Increasing fiber drastically lowers C-reactive protein by 25%-54%.

This extensive review strongly suggests that vegetarian and vegan diets have a big impact on RA. It also suggests that the reasons may be very complex, including, lower saturated fat, better proteins, higher fiber and improved weight management.

So, if you are suffering from RA, you may want to consider making the change to the same vegetarian diet that is healthier for you in so many other ways anyway!


Frontiers of Nutrition 2019; doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2019.00141


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For much more on treating and preventing arthritis, see our book The Family Naturopathic Encyclopedia.

For more on diet’s impact on arthritis, see Linda’s The All New Vegetarian Passport Cookbook: a health book and cookbook all in one book!


The Natural Path is intended for educational purposes only and is in no way intended for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. For health problems, consult a qualified health practitioner for a comprehensive program.

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