Diet and gut health both play a big role in our overall bone health, as well as in the progression of rheumatoid arthritis. Good gut health is defined by the good bacteria living in the gut. These good gut bugs are kept happy when we feed them a diverse diet that includes a large variety of plant-based foods. Read on to learn more about the relationship between gut health and rheumatoid arthritis, and what we can eat more of to slow its progression and improve bone health.
There is an extensive amount of evidence that supports the health benefits of following a Mediterranean diet for the prevention and management of chronic disease. The Mediterranean diet includes high quantities of fruit, vegetables, grains, legumes, unrefined oils like extra-virgin olive oil and nuts. It also includes a moderate consumption of fish, poultry and dairy, with a low consumption of red meats.
Following a Mediterranean-style diet has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, which is very beneficial for people with rheumatoid arthritis.
New evidence for the relationship between gut health and rheumatoid arthritis
A number of more recent studies have shown that a microbial imbalance (or dysbiosis) of the gut microbiota and a decrease in microbial diversity in the gut is generally found in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
Another finding has shown that gut microbiota has a profound association with the immune system, and that a well-balanced microbiota helps to maintain the immune response. This could be especially beneficial in rheumatoid arthritis as an autoimmune disease.
Dysbiosis also produces a chronic inflammation response in the body which, in turn, can contribute to the development of rheumatoid arthritis, as it is also a chronic inflammatory disease. This increase in inflammation causes the disease to progress at a faster pace.
Further recent studies have included the benefits of a diet high in plant foods. They have shown that these are essential for good gut health. Typically, these foods contain high levels of essential nutrients, as well as fibre.
Fibre is vital for gut health. Whether you are talking soluble fibre, insoluble fibre or resistant starch, they have all been shown to improve gut health and microbiome diversity. They have also been shown to reduce inflammatory responses like those found in rheumatoid arthritis.
Consuming a diet high in plant diversity will ensure that your microbiome is receiving a variety of different kinds of fibre, as well as the important nutrients that are required to feed the bacteria in the gut.
Following the Mediterranean diet will ensure that you are consuming a good amount of fibre from a variety of sources.
5 ways to incorporate these valuable findings into your diet
1. Ensure you are eating 5 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit every day.
2. Include foods like wholegrains, legumes, nuts and olive oil in your meals.
3. Leave the skin on your fruit and veggies for added fibre.
4. Include more wholegrains, such as oats, wholegrain bread, brown rice and wholemeal pasta in your meals.
5. Reduce your intake of red meat to just a few times per week, and include more fish, poultry and vegetarian meals.
In summary, having good gut health, consuming a variety of plants foods, including more fibre and following the Mediterranean diet can help to reduce the progression of rheumatoid arthritis, as well as lower inflammation in the body.
Many of the dietitians on the Verde team have extensive experience with gut health, inflammation and autoimmune diseases, including our own founder, Chloe Mcleod, who is a leading expert in this field. Click here to book your first consultation.