Diet and Rheumatoid Arthritis – A Review


Mangge, H., Hermann, J., Schauenstein, K. Scand. J. Rheumatol 28(4):201-209


Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) frequently believe in the positive effects of dietary factors on the activity of RA. In addition, many clinical studies indicate that certain dietary factors may benefit patients suffering from RA. This paper reviews the data published so far on diet and RA, which can be divided into two classes (i) elimination diets (removal of food components), and (ii) supplementation diets (addition of food components). Elimination therapy outlined in this paper includes fasting-vegetarian diets, removal of dietary allergens, and the implementation of an elemental diet. The supplementation therapy mainly focuses on components that possess antiinflammatory or antioxidative effects. Included are vitamin A, beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, Vitamin D, selenium, zinc, eicosapentaenoic and docosapentaenoic acids (from marine oils), and gamma linolenic acid (GLA). In terms of GLA, This paper summarizes previous study results that have shown GLA to be beneficial by favouring the production of the series 1 prostaglandins (PGE1), which show less inflammatory activity than the series 2 prostaglandins produced from arachidonic acid (AA). In addition, GLA inhibits the release of the proinflammatory PGE2 and LTB4 from AA, which is a promising therapeutic effect in chronic inflammatory diseases like RA. GLA from borage oil has also shown effective in reducing synovitis in RA patients. It is stated in this paper that results from a number of RA studies using GLA remain contradictory due to the different forms of GLA used (free fatty acid vs. triglyceride form); however, numerous past studies have shown that GLA from borage oil is a safe and effective treatment option for patients suffering from RA.