Can a Mediterranean Diet Help?

A Mediterranean diet consisting of plenty of fruit and vegetables, pulses and beans, olive oil, nuts and fish with low levels of red meat, has been shown to have many potential health benefits including a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke, lower blood pressure and reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.

Although a Mediterranean diet typically contains more fat than the average UK diet, the fat content is mostly the healthier unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in olive oil and fish, rather than saturated fat found in butter, red and processed meat, cakes and biscuits which may be much less healthy. It also contains much less sugar than a typical UK diet and may help people to lose weight and stay slimmer longer rather than traditional calorie controlled and low fat diets. The Mediterranean diet also contains plenty of vitamins and minerals and is high in anti-oxidants which may have a role in helping people with arthritis.

The relationship between arthritis severity (both inflammatory and osteoarthritis) and dietary manipulation has gained considerable interest with people living with the condition. Emerging data has suggested that following a Mediterranean dietary pattern may be of benefit. This type of diet, consisting of plenty of fruit and vegetables, pulses and beans, olive oil, nuts and fish with low levels of red meat, has been shown to have many potential health benefits. These include a reduced risk of heart disease (common in people with rheumatoid arthritis); lower blood pressure; reduced risk of type 2 diabetes; in addition to the benefit of long-term weight control (osteoarthritis), and supporting healthy gut bacteria.

The updated National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guideline suggested that people with rheumatoid arthritis ‘could be encouraged’ to follow this eating pattern.

References

Forsyth C, Kouvari M et al (2017) The effects of the Mediterranean diet on rheumatoid arthritis prevention and treatment: a systematic review of human prospective studies. Rheumatology International 38(5): 737-747.

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (2018) Rheumatoid arthritis in adults: management. Accessed December 2018.