Adopting a Gluten-free Diet Could Be a
Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis
by Sárka-Jonae Miller
See more articles by Sarka_Jonae Miller
(The Best Years in Life) Eating foods containing gluten could lead to rheumatoid
arthritis, a disease characterized by inflammation and pain in the joints.
Gluten allergies lead to damage in the small intestine when people eat gluten,
which is a protein found in most grains. Breads and pasta are just some of the
common foods that contain gluten. People who are gluten intolerant or allergic
may experience side effects from eating gluten, but some people do not have
symptoms and could be unknowingly increasing their risk of rheumatoid arthritis.
Gluten Intolerance and Allergy
Having a gluten intolerance means that the body has a hard time digesting the
gluten found in grains like wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats. If not
managed, a gluten intolerance may lead to serious conditions such as diabetes
and intestinal cancer.
A gluten intolerance or allergy may cause aching joints, which is also a symptom
of rheumatoid arthritis. Additional symptoms include muscle cramps, hair loss,
nausea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, mouth ulcers and seizures.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease disease, meaning it causes the
body's immune system to attack healthy tissue. The cause of rheumatoid arthritis
is unknown to conventional medical practitioners. Women get RA more often than
men and the condition generally presents during middle age.
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include pain and stiffness in the joints on
both sides of the body. Most often this affects the fingers, wrists, knees, feet
and ankles. Joints may also feel tender or warm during periods of inactivity.
Deformity in the joints can occur over time.
Gluten and Autoimmune Response
When bacteria enters the body, the immune system recognizes the invader as
something foreign. It attacks this invader to prevent illness. Unfortunately, in
people with rheumatoid arthritis, the body thinks that its own tissue is an
invader and attacks it. The intestinal lining gets damaged during these attacks,
which allows large food particles to pass through the damaged intestinal wall
and get into the body. This condition is known as leaky gut and the autoimmune
response. It may contribute to rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune
diseases, according to Robb Wolf. Wolf is a a former research biochemist and the
author of the New York Times bestselling book The Paleo Solution.
For someone who is gluten intolerant, the body attacks grains that contain
gluten, leading to intestinal damage. This allows the gluten particles to get
into the bloodstream and to the joints, which the immune system then attacks and
damages as well.
Dietary Therapy as a Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Dietary therapy may reduce rheumatoid arthritis symptoms by eliminating foods
that trigger an autoimmune response, according to an article published in the
British Journal of Rheumatotology in June 1993. This therapy may even slow the
progression of the disease by eliminating all trigger foods from the diet.
Dietary therapy is also useful as a diagnostic tool to discover unique food
triggers. The therapy begins with eliminating every possible food trigger for
arthritis out of the diet, such as beef, eggs, wheat, oranges, milk, peanuts,
malt and soy. Food is then reintroduced one at a time to see if a person reacts
to a particular item.
Sources for this article include:
British Journal of Rheumatotology
PubMed Health: Rheumatoid Arthritis
PubMed Health: Celiac Disease
About the Author
Sárka-Jonae Miller is a health and fitness expert. She began working in the
fitness industry in 2000 while pursuing a BS in journalism at Syracuse
University. She became certified as a personal fitness trainer and group
exercise instructor in 2003. She has also received training in massage therapy.
Sárka also writes fiction. She is the author of the chick lit novel,
Boyfriends. Get more health and wellness tips on Sárka's
Natural Healing Tips
blog or join her on
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