In November 2018 researchers from the UK published their review on diet and the risk of rheumatoid arthritis. There is an increasing amount of evidence which suggests that dietary factors and dietary patterns may increase the risk of rheumatoid arthritis. The researchers stated that a ‘Western’ type diet rich in energy intake, total and saturated fat, an unbalanced ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, high in refined carbohydrates and sugar and low in fibre and antioxidants may increase the risk of rheumatoid arthritis by increasing inflammation and/or increasing insulin resistance and obesity, with the latter being a known risk factor for rheumatoid arthritis. On the other hand, consumption of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, derived from fish and fish oil, is associated with a reduced risk of rheumatoid arthritis which may be due to their anti-inflammatory properties. Based on current research the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in plant-based foods such as wholegrains, legumes, fruit, vegetables, extra-virgin olive oil with a reduced consumption of red meat and sugar-sweetened drinks, may therefore help to reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis. The researchers concluded by stating that further research is required which will allow for more specific dietary recommendations to be made.
Philippou E, Nikiphorou E. Are we really what we eat? Nutrition and its role in the onset of rheumatoid arthritis. Autoimmun Rev. 2018 Nov;17(11):1074-1077.