Restrictive, Vegan-Based Diet Linked to Fewer RA Symptoms
A new randomized, crossover study, researchers assigned 44 women to one of two diet phases. After 16 weeks, they had a 4-week washout period, then began the other 16-week phase. A total of 32 patients completed the study, and they had a mean age of 57 years. Overall, 66% were White, 16% were Black, and 79% held a college degree or graduate degree.

In the 16-week intervention phase, participants went on a low-fat vegan diet. After 4 weeks, they eliminated common RA trigger foods such as grains with gluten, nuts, citrus fruits, and chocolate. After week 7, the subjects added back the trigger foods one by one, keeping them in their diet if they didn't seem to cause pain.

In the 16-week placebo phase, the women took a supplement that they were told contained omega-3 oils and vitamin E. However, the amounts of omega-3 and vitamin E were very low and had no apparent effect.

Vegan diets are also cheaper than diets with meat and dairy. After 16 weeks, the mean Disease Activity Score in 28 joints (DAS28) decreased from 4.5 to 2.5 (P < .001), and the mean number of swollen joints dipped from 7.0 to 3.3 (P = .03). The study suggest suggests that adopting a low-fat vegan diet and then eliminating remaining trigger foods may dramatically reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) within months.