Inflammatory Arthritis

Inflammatory arthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease. This is caused by our body attacking the lining of our own joints and eventually leads to permanent joint damage. Molecular mimicry is one of the pathological mechanisms proposed to explain the association between microorganisms and autoimmune diseases.

An association has been found between rheumatoid arthritis and the bacteria Proteus miribilis which causes upper urinary tract infections. There is a molecule in this bacteria that looks a lot like a molecule in our joints, so the theory is that anti-Proteus antibodies, which fight the bacterial molecule in our system, inadvertently damage our own joint tissues instead.

Where does the bacteria come from? From our fecal flora. The bacteria travel up from the rectum to the bladder. This explains why women get more UTI’s and also higher rates of inflammatory arthritis than men.

What is the best way to change the bacteria in our colons? Change your diet. Numerous studies over the past 20 years have proven that the best way to change gut flora to benefit rheumatoid arthritis sufferers is with a plant based diet. In 2014 the first study, using a plant based diet, specifically showed a significant drop in anti-Proteus miribilis antibodies compared to the control group.

Excessive body weight and diets that include animal products, (meat, dairy and eggs) exacerbate rheumatoid arthritis symptoms due to their pro-inflammatory effects. A 2015 study found that participants randomized to a 2 month plant-based dietary intervention experienced reductions in their inflammatory scores, when compared to those eating diets higher in fat and animal products.

On the other hand, diets rich in fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes are associated with lower BMI, have anti-inflammatory properties, help reduce pain and inflammation and improves C-reactive protein. Studies have shown that a higher intake of certain carotenoids (Vitamin A, beta carotene, Vitamin E) found in fruits and vegetables may protect against developing rheumatoid arthritis. Foods containing beta-cryptoxanthin (e.g. citrus fruits) and zeaxanthin (e.g. green leafy vegetables) may be particularly helpful.

The Best Diet for Rheumatoid Artritis – Dr Michael Greger M.D.

New Review Highlights Benefits of Plant-Based Diet for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

Doctors Group Says Plant-Based Diet Could be Prescription for Arthritis Pain
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

Research papers

Molecular mimicry between HLA -DR alleles associated with rheumatoid arthritis and Proteus miribilis as the Aetiological basis for autoimmunity

An uncooked vegan diet shifts the profile of human fecal microflora: computerized analysis of direct stool sample gas-liquid chromatography profiles of bacterial cellular fatty acids

Nutrition interventions in Rheumatoid Arthritis: The potential use of plant based diets. A Review.

Changes of fecal flora in rheumatoid arthritis during fasting and one year vegetarian diet

Serum concentrations of alpha tocopherol, beta carotene and retinol preceding the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus