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The Best Eating Habits to Reduce Arthritis Symptoms, New Study Suggests

A study has determined the best diet for those with the condition.
FACT CHECKED BY Kristen Warfield

If you deal with arthritis, then you surely know that there are things that can both make the symptoms worse as well as things that you can do to ease those same unpleasant issues. That includes adopting a certain diet. Fortunately, a study has now determined the best eating habit to reduce arthritis symptoms.

In the study that was published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, researchers took a look at 32 women whose mean age was 57 and who were fully able to complete the required program which involved eating a diet that was both low-fat and vegan for a period of 16 weeks. Beyond that, the participants removed foods that are known to cause Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) symptoms. That included citrus fruits and chocolate as well as nuts and gluten.

At the end of the study, the researchers found that the women's Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms—such as painful and swollen joints—were far less severe.

vegan buddha bowl
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Related: The #1 Best Juice to Drink Every Day, Says Science

According to the study's lead author, Neal D. Barnard, MD, an internal medicine specialist and adjunct professor of medicine at George Washington University, the results of following these eating habits can be "a life-changing experience for people."

Dana Ellis Hunnes PhD, MPH, RD, a senior clinical dietitian at UCLA Medical Center, assistant professor at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, and author of Recipe For Survival with Cambridge University Press (2022), tells Eat This, Not That! Rheumatoid arthritis "is likely mediated by inflammation, meaning, more inflammation, more severe symptoms." Because of that, "an anti-inflammatory diet such as the one in this study, would therefore decrease the symptoms as it is decreasing inflammation."

"It makes sense that eliminating inflammatory foods would reduce the severity of the RA symptoms," Hunnes says, adding that "it also makes sense that a whole, vegan diet, high in whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, vegetables, fruits, that avoids inflammatory animal-protein foods would reduce RA symptoms."

Hunnes notes that "if you can manage" rheumatoid arthritis "with an anti-inflammatory diet, instead of (or with a lower dose of) medications, that's the best benefit you can have."

To find out more about how your diet can help ease certain symptoms that you might be dealing with, be sure to read The 40 Best Foods That Fight Arthritis.

Desirée O
Desirée O is a freelance writer who covers lifestyle, food, and nutrition news among other topics. Read more