What Not to Eat With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Ask a Doctor

I have just been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, and I’m trying to be proactive in treatment so I don’t have to take a ton of pills. Is there a special diet or nutritional supplement regimen that helps rheumatoid arthritis? Is there a list of foods not to eat with rheumatoid arthritis?

Doctor's Response

There are currently no particular foods that are universally recommended that people with rheumatoid arthritis avoid, but dietary discretion is individualized based on patients' own experiences.

Other dietary changes that some people with rheumatoid arthritis find helpful include increasing hydration for the dry mouth of Sjögren's syndrome, increasing fish intake (especially salmon) to reduce inflammation, and taking anti-inflammatory medications with food to avoid stomach irritation (gastritis and dyspepsia). Some research has suggested that a fish-grain diet can decrease the chances of developing rheumatoid arthritis while a Western high-fat diet might increase the chances of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

There is little scientific research on the role of herbs, natural products, and nutritional supplements in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. High-dose fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids) has been shown in small studies to reduce rheumatoid arthritis disease activity, and in some cases, fish oil supplementation may allow patients to discontinue NSAIDs. Some people with rheumatoid arthritis are using turmeric with varying degrees of success in reducing inflammation.

For more information, read our full medical article on rheumatoid arthritis.

McInnes, I.B., and G. Schett. "Mechanisms of Disease: The Pathogenesis of Rheumatoid Arthritis." N Engl J Med 365 (2011): 2205-2219.