Beacon Clinic has been at the forefront of helping individuals with long-term health challenges to manage care, develop treatment plans, and receive lifestyle support. We have focused in the past on cancer care but now offer our services to patients with rheumatic conditions. 

The term “rheumatism” is often associated with rheumatic arthritis, a condition in which a person suffers from degeneration of the joints, causing pain and stiffness. However, while rheumatic arthritis (RA) is one of the most common types of rheumatism, the term refers to any chronic autoimmune condition, including psoriasis, lupus, gout, scleroderma, and other conditions.

Autoimmune disorders are characterized by a person’s immune system attacking healthy tissues and causing inflammation. In RA, for example, joint degeneration results from the immune system harming healthy tissues, as distinguished from arthritis caused by aging, wear, and stress on the joints.

Because rheumatic conditions are an immune system disorder, diet can play a role. Some foods fight inflammation, others stimulate inflammation, and some support proper immune system function. Accordingly, paying attention to diet is critical for people with rheumatic conditions, and it is one means of helping them manage their conditions. While diet alone cannot cure or reverse these conditions, it can significantly impact inflammation levels, symptom severity, and overall well-being.


Nutrient-Rich Foods: A Foundation for Health

One key to managing rheumatic symptoms is eating foods shown to reduce inflammation. Research consistently indicates that individuals with rheumatic conditions can benefit from a diet high in plant-based foods. Emphasizing a diverse array of plant foods of all types — vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and nuts — can help reduce inflammation and improve symptoms. These foods are rich in antioxidants, polyphenols, carotenoids, and fiber, all of which contribute to mitigating inflammation.

When putting together a meal, vegetables like spinach, kale, broccoli, carrots, and fruits such as berries, oranges, and apples should comprise a significant portion of your plate. Opting for low-glycemic, unprocessed carbohydrates like whole grains like brown rice and quinoa can help stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce inflammation.

Incorporating healthy fats, particularly omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish (salmon, sardines), seeds (flaxseed, chia), and nuts (walnuts), is crucial. These fats possess anti-inflammatory properties and are vital for overall joint health. Additionally, using extra virgin olive oil in cooking and meal preparation adds monounsaturated fatty acids and polyphenols, further supporting an anti-inflammatory diet.

Limiting red meat consumption and opting for plant-based protein sources is recommended. Vegetarian diets have shown associations with reduced symptoms in inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, making plant-based proteins an ideal choice for those managing rheumatic diseases.

Some spices also have anti-inflammatory properties, such as turmeric and ginger. Turmeric contains curcumin, a compound renowned for its anti-inflammatory properties, and ginger can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. Incorporating these spices into meals is easy, as they complement many different foods. Alternatively, consuming them in teas can offer natural relief from rheumatic symptoms.

Some foods can exacerbate inflammation, so you should limit or avoid them to optimize your well-being. These foods include hydrogenated oils, processed flour, added sugars, high-fructose corn syrup, processed meats, and other less healthy oils like corn and sunflower. 


Nourishing Your Body for a Higher Quality of Life

Many of these recommendations for adjustments in diet can help many health conditions. Still, people with rheumatic conditions should pay special attention to how diet affects how they feel or how their bodies react to certain foods. 

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to every person or every rheumatic condition, and one person may notice a dramatic improvement in response to a particular food while another experiences no change. A good way to approach these suggestions for diet changes is to introduce them gradually and try each item for a week or two to find out what works and what doesn’t. By making mindful food choices and prioritizing whole, unprocessed foods, individuals with rheumatic conditions can take proactive steps toward managing their health and improving their quality of life. 

If you would like further information or would like to schedule a visit with our rheumatologist Dr. Dinning to discuss your options for treatment, please call Beacon Clinic today.