Rheumatoid Arthritis: Prevention and Treatment with a Plant-Based Diet

This article was published on Oct 5, 2018, in the peer-reviewed Orthopedics and Rheumatology Open Access Journal.

Abstract

Rheumatoid arthritis has no cure, so long term treatment is indicated. An individual’s dietary choices greatly influence the progression of chronic autoimmune rheumatic diseases. This review shows that the plant-based diet has good scientific evidence of safety and efficacy for both prevention and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Studies have shown significant improvements in specific symptoms, such as number of tender joints, Ritchie’s articular index, number of swollen joints, pain score, duration of morning stiffness, grip strength, and improved laboratory values such as sed rate (ESR), C-reactive protein, and rheumatic factor. Patients placed on a plant-based diet also have a beneficial shift in intestinal microbiota, which correlates with clinical improvement. With respect to prevention, those following a plant-based diet experience a reduction in risk of rheumatoid arthritis by about 50%.

RA patients should be advised that a plant-based diet that includes appropriate amounts of carbohydrate, especially dietary fiber, is important for maintaining the symbiosis of intestinal flora, which could be beneficial for preventing autoimmunity. As disease severity worsens, individuals with RA may experience functional decline that can impact dietary intake. New healthy plant-based convenience foods are a good choice for such patients.

 Treatment with a plant-based diet is affordable for the patient, has no adverse reactions and no contraindications, and it can be combined with any of the standard treatments. For mild cases it may suffice as a monotherapy. For moderate and severe cases, it may serve as an adjunct, allowing dosage reductions thus lessening the costs and side effects.

See Dr Chan Hwang, Physical Medicine and Rehab, talk about the treatment of Crohn’s Disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis with a plant-based diet:

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Editorial: Why didn’t my doctor tell me? Plant-based diets and Type 2 Diabetes

Editorial: Why didn’t my doctor tell me? 

Plant-based diets and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

Printable (pdf) version: Editorial – Plant-based diets and T2DM

It’s the rare physician with an adult practice that doesn’t encounter a significant number of patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Given the rapid rise of the disease, its prophylaxis and treatment should be of pressing concern for every physician. In spite of this crisis, the advantages of a plant-based diet for the prevention and treatment of T2DM have been overlooked.

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Interview with Dr. Arun Kalyanasundaram, Interventional Cardiologist

For the physician, all relevant research comes into actual practice in the clinic.  For the patient, the clinic is where they receive their treatment and interact with their doctor on an ongoing basis. Very often, clinical technique makes the key difference for patient compliance and successful treatment. So the Vegetarian Prescription considers the clinical experience of physicians practicing vegetarian nutritional medicine to be a vital source of knowledge and experience. To make this knowledge more widely available, we are posting a series of interviews with various current practitioners. 

Interview with Dr Arun Kalyanasundaram, a medical doctor, practicing Interventional Cardiology in the Seattle area:

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What is Vegetarian Nutritional Medicine?

Vegetarian nutritional medicine is a branch of lifestyle medicine. It utilizes a diet composed of vegetables, whole grains, fruits, legumes and nuts as both a prophylaxis against, and a treatment for, a wide varieties of diseases, including most of the common chronic diseases in the United States and other industrialized nations. Its safety and efficacy has been borne out by both research and clinical experience.

Vegetarian nutritional medicine represents an addition to pharmacotherapy and surgery, not a replacement for them, thus widening the tools available to the physician.

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