Fish diet might not help much with rheumatoid arthritis symptoms

Fish diet might not help much with rheumatoid arthritis symptoms


Fish and marine omega-3 don’t show any clear protective effect against rheumatoid arthritis.

Seafood-rich diet, as well as supplements like fish oil and krill have been praised for their effectiveness against rheumatoid arthritis and some other inflammatory conditions.

There is a great number of doctors that suggest a fish-rich diet, or some specific dietary plans alike the Mediterranean diet, in order to combat rheumatoid arthritis.

However, a new study that was published in the medical journal BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders suggests otherwise.

According to the researchers that conducted the study, an increased dietary intake of fish and marine omega-3 fatty acids aren't as helpful against the effects of rheumatoid arthritis as we have been led to believe before, preventive or otherwise.

The study used two groups of female participants, and the researchers were measuring the intake of fish in the diet. The groups consisted of up to 166,013 women.

The results were cataloged through food frequency questionnaires at an initial baseline at first, and again every four years later.

The lead scientists then used the gathered information along with medical record reviews so as to determine the presence and incidence of rheumatoid arthritis, as well as symptoms and the serologic status of rheumatoid arthritis – measured with the help of labs and blood draws.

“Prior studies suggest that fish may be protective for rheumatoid arthritis risk perhaps through the anti-inflammatory effect of omega-3 fatty acid, but this relationship has not been clearly established,” the researchers said. “Therefore, we investigated fish intake and RA risk by serologic status, age of onset, and smoking using a prospective cohort study with large sample size, repeated measures of dietary intake, and lengthy follow-up.”

After their follow-up, they managed to identify 1,080 rheumatoid arthritis cases that revealed that revealed no connection between fish intake and rheumatoid arthritis in all cases. The researchers said that there was no clear protective effect” of a diet rich in fish and marine omega-3s against rheumatoid arthritis.

The researchers also explored the possible connection or interaction between fish diet, rheumatoid arthritis, and smoking.

Relationship with smoking

Some previous studies have revealed that smoking increased the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.

This part of the study showed that fish intake seemed to reduce the strong connection between smoking and rheumatoid arthritis in patients aged 55 and younger.

However, the authors of the study noted that these findings need some more research.

Further actions

These results will quite possibly leave people confused as to what they need to do from now on.

According to Dr. Nilanjana Bose, an assistant professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch, the contents of your diet can result in some changes. “A balanced diet is very important for autoimmune diseases,” she said.

“A Mediterranean diet (rich in nuts, seeds, fruits, legumes, fish, dairy) and avoiding red meat, carbohydrates, and simple sugars can help reduce inflammation. I feel that omega-3 fatty acids significantly alleviate inflammation and, as such, can be great as additions to the diet, as fatty fish or omega-3 fatty acid capsules can help patients with RA combat their inflammation and risk of cardiovascular disease,” Dr. Bose added.

She explained that a healthy lifestyle is very important for people that are coping with autoimmune conditions.

“Prior studies have shown that fatty fish does in fact help RA symptoms,” Dr. Bose said. “Again, this is not a substitute for proper medications but if taken together with medications and a healthy lifestyle, can promote a healthy life.”

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Sholem Berkowitz
Sholem Berkowitz

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