After eons of denying, downplaying and dissing the idea that there is any relationship between Rheumatoid Arthritis and diet, the Arthritis Foundation has published an article that cautiously and tentatively admits they may have been wrong all along.
What they say is that they have “new evidence” that diet may be responsible sometimes, in some people, because the symptoms of RA appear to be due to food allergies. It’s a long way from saying that RA is intrinsically a food sensitivity disorder – a conclusion that is hard to avoid – and it misstates the volumes of previous research that pointed the way long ago to the right conclusion, but it’s also a small break from their previous official dogma that kept the truth from millions of their subscribers.
Although it will be hard for them to completely distance themselves from their Big Pharma financiers and advise those with RA to forego drugs altogether in favor of diet changes, I applaud them for taking this step, which I suspect they did in the interest of full disclosure, and also because the article in question made the evening news.
They now say:
Food allergies occur when your immune system mistakenly believes that something you ate is harmful. To protect you, the immune system produces … antibodies against that food. The antibodies set off a chain reaction that causes symptoms.
The Arthritis Today article, curiously, doesn’t give a reference for the research. But here is what it says:
… if you think there are foods that cause inflammation for you, Dr. Brostoff suggests trying an elimination diet. “Try eating the standard Stone Age diet, which includes only fruit, vegetables, meat and fish, for one month,” he says. Studies have shown that if a person is food-sensitive, this type of diet can help reduce morning stiffness and pain, improve range of motion and lower inflammatory mediators in the blood.
Pay close attention to the next paragraph.
… Dr. Brostoff did an experiment and found that more than one-third of people with RA felt better and had less morning stiffness on this diet. “We had one or two patients who, after one or two months, were so much better they could go walking and do all the things they could do before,” he says.
He had only one-third improve. The reason, which they seem not yet to have discovered, is that 2/3 of those people were allergic to some of the foods that remained in their diet.
For example, there are many fruits, vegetables and meats that can cause an inflammatory reaction among those who are sensitive. So, if you try his “Stone Age diet” you may still have symptoms of RA. At which point some may be tempted to throw up their hands and go back on prescription pharmaceuticals. It would be much better to take his idea and refine it to suit your own immune system.
He had “one or two patients” who recovered completely. With some tweaks to his reasoning and his diet regimen, they all might have recovered completely.
The next step is to reintroduce foods, one at a time. “The only way of knowing if you are sensitive to a food is to eliminate it and then add it back,” Dr. Brostoff says.
Very true. Yay, for Dr. Brostoff.
After coming so close, this is, unfortunately,their conclusion:
Evidence suggests it may be time to consider a rheumatoid arthritis diet.
No! No! No! There is no such thing as a rheumatoid arthritis diet. There are only foods to which you personally and individually are sensitive. The Rheumatoid Arthritis diet that will work for you is one that is unique to you and discovered by you. It is not a formula that can be applied to everyone and then packaged and sold like Tylenol.
The statement above embodies the precise reason why studies have had so much trouble scientifically linking food and inflammatory conditions. Researchers have tried for years to create a one-size-fits-all diet that will work for everyone with RA. It really seems that by now, after spending years establishing the solid link between diet and RA umpteen thousand times, they should have grasped that fact.
But maybe they’re getting closer.