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Arthritis: 6 Diet Changes That Could Help Relieve Pain (PHOTOS)

First Posted: 11/26/10 08:53 AM ET   Updated: 05/25/11 07:15 PM ET

Anywhere from 33 percent to 75 percent of people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) feel that there are some foods that make symptoms, such as stiff and painful joints, better or worse.

However, the scientific evidence is spotty.

"There's no compelling data that generalizes all patients," says Nortin M. Hadler, MD, professor of medicine and microbiology-immunology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author of Worried Sick.

"There are multiple trials, but the effects are minimal." Even if some foods do alleviate RA symptoms, it would be hard to sort out individual diet factors, Dr. Hadler adds.

That said, here are six dietary changes that may be worth trying if you have rheumatoid arthritis.

Shed Extra Pounds
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If you’re overweight, losing those excess pounds may take some of the pressure off of your joints.

“If I have a patient with RA who’s overweight and loses 10 pounds, every time he takes a forceful step forward, that’s 30 pounds less on weight-bearing joints [such as the hips and knees],” says Dr. Hadler.

What’s more, it may also improve quality of life. A 2006 study found that overweight and normal weight people with RA had a higher quality of life than those who were obese.

More from Health.com:
10 Ways Rheumatoid Arthritis Affects the Body
How RA Differs from Osteoarthritis
10 Ways to Ease Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain

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Filed by Meghan Neal  |