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|Rheumatoid Arthritis of the hands.|
Recent literature has shown that diet can improve the symptoms of painful and inflamed joints suffered by millions of arthritis patients. Certain foods such as meat and dairy may trigger arthritic symptoms, and a meat-free diet can give relief to arthritis sufferers.
There are several types of arthritis, all of which cause swollen joints and painful movement. Recent studies have shown that diets that restrict meat and dairy give symptom relief for all types of arthritis:
Osteoarthritis: This is the most prevalent form of arthritis, caused by wear and tear of the joints. Most sufferers of this type of arthritis are in the >50 age group. However, this condition is rare in Asian and African countries whose populations follow a plant-based diet and few animal products.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: Thought to be an autoimmune disease, this is a more aggressive type of arthritis caused by damage to the synovium that lines the joints, resulting in pain and inflammation. A study published in the Am. Journal for Clinical Nutrition showed patients in vegetarian diet groups improved significantly compared to patients who followed their usual omnivorous diet throughout the study period. (More info here.)
Gouty Arthritis: Gout is caused by a build-up of uric acid in the joints. It is triggered by a diet high in purines to include meat and fish. The purines in vegetables, however, do not increase gout symptoms.
Inflammatory Polyarthritis: This type of arthritis occurs when there is inflammation in more than four joints, and is often a precursor to rheumatoid arthritis. A 2004 study found that “subjects with the highest level of consumption of red meat, meat and meat products combined were at an increased risk for inflammatory polyarthritis.” See abstract here.