Gluten and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Gluten and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune condition that affects over 1.5 million adults. It most often affects women between the ages of 40 and 60 years old. In what can be a devastating condition, the body attacks the thin membrane surrounding joints, allowing fluid and immune complexes to build up in the joints and cause significant pain, local inflammation and tissue damage.

It’s Genetic
RA is genetic, meaning it can be passed down to your descendants or inherited. That being said, recent research has indicated that genetics account for only 25% of autoimmune disease cases, and environmental factors account for 75% of autoimmune conditions.

Gluten-Free Diets Can Have a Positive Impact on Symptoms
There are many prescribed and holistic treatments for RA, but did you know that for some patients the most impactful treatment is diet? Adopting a gluten-free diet can be an effective way to combat RA pain and inflammation. Despite the fact that many patients swear that this approach has helped them, some doctors debate the effectiveness of a dietary change for RA.

Get Tested for Celiac Disease
If you have one autoimmune disease, it is likely that you may have others. Untreated Celiac Disease (CD) can lead to malnutrition and a host of painful symptoms including joint pain and inflammation. It can be devastating to the gut and brain if left untreated. Doctors agree that if you have CD and symptoms of RA, it is likely that gluten is causing or contributing to your inflammation and joint pain, and should be eliminated from your diet. Some say symptoms of untreated CD may even mimic those of RA! Other doctors believe that gluten should be eliminated from the diet whether or not you test positive for CD because it is an inflammatory food that will worsen the symptoms of RA and other autoimmune diseases. People who react to gluten without a CD diagnosis are considered gluten sensitive.

Make Choices That are Right for You
There is a lot of debate in the medical community about the effectiveness of removing gluten from the diet to treat RA. Some swear by the approach, stating that gluten is a harmful food, especially for those with inflammation. Others stand behind recent studies that indicate that patients without CD who benefit from eliminating gluten are experiencing nothing more than a placebo effect. They maintain that going gluten-free is a major lifestyle change that should be carefully considered, especially if it may not make any positive impact on the patient.

Considering some patients do not respond to prescribed medications for RA, and those medications often come with serious side effects, a test for CD and a potential dietary change may be worth exploring when it comes to determining your RA treatment plan.

 

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