Rheumatoid Arthritis May Be Improved With A Vegan Diet

It looks like a gluten-free vegan diet can help sufferers of Rheumatoid Arthritis. A study was conducted by Johan Frostegard of the Rheumatology Unit at the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, in which it was found that

...a gluten-free vegan diet was shown to lower cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and oxidizedLDL (OxLDL), as well as raising the levels of natural antibodies against the damaging compounds in the body that cause symptoms of the chronic inflammatory disease rheumatoid arthritis -- from Science Daily

Heart attack and stroke are the leading cause of death for sufferers of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), and high levels of LDL an OxLDL are risk factors for heart attack and stroke.

The study was comprised of 66 volunteers, all of whom were given a diet of:

  • 10% protein
  • 60% carbohydrate
  • 30% fat, saturated fats were not to exceed 10%
  • and wholegrain products were to be chosen as often as possible.

38 people were put on a gluten-free vegan diet which excluded animal products and gluten (found in wheat, oats, rye, and barley), and included nuts, sunflower seeds, fruit and vegetables, millet, and corn. Sesame milk provided a daily source of calcium.

The remaining 28 volunteers followed a healthy diet with approximately the same proportions of protein, carbohydrate, and fat.

The volunteers on the vegan diet exhibited a decrease in the total level of cholesterol and LDL. Those on the non-vegan diet showed no significant variations in these levels. Another very positive outcome was that there were quantifiable changes to the immune system. A larger study group will be needed to discern which particular aspects of the diet are most beneficial.

The Arthritis Research Campaign, said the study was of interest but suggested the role of diet could be exaggerated. They also claimed it is difficult to get enough of some important nutrients on a vegan diet.

Personally, Jane and I don't agree with that last statement. We make sure to have a large green salad with lunch and dinner every day and focus on having a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Also, we take a daily calcium supplement, B-12 supplement, and general multivitamin just to cover all our bases.

For more information on Vegan Nutrition, see our post entitled Vegan Nutrition and our Vegan Resources page.

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