A recent study by scientists at Karolinska Institutet has discovered a link between frequent consumption of the Mediterranean diet and a lower risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
The research reinforces the existing understanding of the diet’s anti-inflammatory properties and suggests it may be beneficial for men and those with a positive rheumatoid factor.
Details of the Study
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease causing painful joint swelling and inflammation.
The Mediterranean diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and with moderate amounts of fish, white meat, and alcohol, has been connected with lower risks of death, heart disease, and cancer due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Until now, only one study had examined the link between the Mediterranean diet and rheumatoid arthritis risk, and it reported no association.
In this new research, 1,721 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and 3,667 healthy individuals were examined. The Mediterranean diet adherence was scored from 0 to 9 using a 124-item food questionnaire.
The researchers found that high adherence to the diet (score between 6 and 9) reduced the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis by 21% compared to low adherence (score between 0 and 2).
Interestingly, this benefit was particularly strong in men and those with a positive rheumatoid factor, but not in women or individuals with a negative rheumatoid factor.
A positive rheumatoid factor suggests a high level of rheumatoid factor in the blood, closely associated with autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
Implications and Future Directions
The study suggests that bioactive compounds found in the Mediterranean diet, such as antioxidants, monounsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids, phytosterols, and fiber, may contribute to its health benefits.
Further research is needed to understand why the diet could help reduce rheumatoid arthritis risk in certain individuals.
Overall, the study indicates that the Mediterranean diet may help reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis, especially in men and individuals with a positive rheumatoid factor.
While more research is required, adopting a Mediterranean diet could be a wise choice for those looking to lower their risk of rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic diseases.
The research, conducted by Kari Johansson et al, is published in the journal Arthritis Research & Therapy.
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