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Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, which means that the immune system of the human body mistakenly starts to attack the healthy tissue and normal substances. Science is still struggling to find out exactly what causes autoimmune diseases, but most experts agree that genes, environment and hormones are among the factors for this disorder.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease that leads to the degeneration of joint tissue, impairs mobility and causes deformities.

The symptoms of this disease are pain, stiffness and partial or complete loss of joint function. It mostly occurs between the ages 25 and 55 and it seems to affect women more than men.

Rheumatoid arthritis is treated with medication and sometimes surgery, but all medical professionals agree that changes in lifestyle and an adequate diet play an important role in the treatment of this disease. The following diet suggestions are proven to help reduce pain, swelling and inflammation of joints due to this disease.

Although most dietitians recommend avoiding fat in the diet, some types of fat are actually essential for the normal functioning of the human body. For example, Omega-3 fatty acid helps significantly in controlling the joint inflammation. It can be taken as a supplement and it is available in that form in most drugstores and pharmacies, but it is always better to take the nutrients in their natural form, from foods. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fatty fish like salmon and herring, in soy, walnuts, avocado, and in oil made from those products.

A healthy diet must include raw or steamed vegetables, fruit, whole grain and rice. The oil used for cooking should be reduced to a minimum and it must be unsaturated. Liquids like water, herbal tea, soup, freshly squeezed juice from fruits and vegetables must be included in the diet.

There are some foods that actually aggravate the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and should therefore be avoided. First of all, in case of allergies, the nutrients that cause them must be excluded from the diet. Some people have intolerance to wheat, dairy products and synthetic ingredients, and should be careful not to put additional strain on an already weak immune system.

There has been some talk about the negative effects of nightshade plants (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants) on patients with rheumatoid arthritis, but this has never been scientifically proven. In fact, some have reported to experience less pain after eating these vegetables.

Foods to be avoided, because they can trigger the inflammation and pain, are fried and grilled foods, fats, excessive salt, dairy products, processed flour and white sugar, tea and coffee, alcohol, but also berries and citrus fruit, because they contain acid that does not go well with rheumatoid arthritis.

No diet will cure rheumatoid arthritis by itself, but some will certainly help alleviate the symptoms and improve one\'s overall health.

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