Anti inflammatory diet

First of all, thank you for the helpful comments and advice on knee flare ups. It’s all a great help … for both body and mind!

Im trying to change my diet which I thought was fairly healthy until I read about anti inflammatory foods and the effects on painful joints. I.e. leaving out the delicious sweet things we all love but I’m doing reasonably well so far which is barely a week but fingers crossed I will persevere.

One problem is the cost of food alternatives to wheat. I’m finding cakes to make with fruit as sweeteners and cutting down on red meat which I eat very little of anyway.

All suggestions will be great to hear about thanks.



  • noddingtonpete
    noddingtonpete Moderator Posts: 952

    Need more help? - call our Helpline on0800 5200 520Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm

  • lindalegs
    lindalegs Member Posts: 5,392

    Hello Barbara (@Ribble)

    After checking with my rheumatologist, I tried an anti-inflammatory diet many years ago when I started with rheumatoid. Although I believed it was doing me good at first, I eventually found I wasn't doing myself any favours. I shed body weight from a very steady 8.5 stone to below 7 stone (I was too frightened to weigh myself after dropping this low). After 4 months I gave it up and felt so much better on a normal, sensible, balanced diet.

    If you're overweight and need to lose the calories I'm sure it will help you, but I don't think there's any medical evidence that it will stop your joints being painful. Being a lighter as a whole is generally good, but with the diet I tried I lost muscle mass and that wasn't helpful.

    I don't want to poo-poo your diet as I'm not an expert and people do swear by them, I just thought I'd let you know my experience.

    I also think that if it just took diet to make us all better, wouldn't our GPs/Consultants prescribe that instead of all these expensive drugs with side effects?

    PS I have tried many things e.g. cod liver oil, evening primrose oil, black strap molasses, Brazil nuts, copper bracelets but none have worked for me, but they do work for some so it's probably just me.

    Love, Legs x
    'Make a life out of what you have, not what you're missing'
  • Arthuritis
    Arthuritis Member Posts: 441

    @Ribble @lindalegs Hiya…

    A little about me … to set the context, and then what I did, (hosp verified).

    I was diagnosed with RA in 2021, Serology positive through the roof. Open & shut case… was in agony, and my MTX was ramped up quickly to the UK max, and it just about controlled the RA agony, AFTER 3 months! My hands barely worked, couldn’t turn taps (I had old turney types), couldn’t open jars and in winter couldn’t top up my Worcester boiler because it had this RA unfriendly key you had to jam in and out, and my joints were so weak at the time I couldn’t even muster the strength to open the swing door to my rheumy appointment office. I thought that was my lot. Done. cooked. The high MTX meant I was constantly getting opportunistic infections, bacterial mostly, even shingles. (i am not old enough to get the free shingrix vax). Then by chance I got an anaerobic bacterial skin infection for which I was prescribed antibiotics… and to aid the antibiotics you have to stop MTX which I dreaded. Also you can’t take MTX & penicillin based meds together as penicillin amplifies MTX and made soooooo sick, couldn’t think straight. Discovered this by myself as my busy GP didn’t check the contraindication in the BNF. (Should be automatic in the NHS prescription system but it’s not). I decided if the RA got too bad I would resume MTX. A week went by. 2 weeks. 4 weeks. 1 month… 2 months 3 months… it’s 11 months now. No MTX. Serology still positive, as expected, but none of the physiological traits, verified by a ultrasound.

    Here’s the important bit. I am pain free, but I had to change my diet drastically to remain MTX & pain free. I am still overweight, but largely back to my former self, but have identified a “safe” list and a trigger list.

    This works for me, it may or may not for you, and you may need to do your own trial and error as well as learn about things like “leaky gut” and the gut biome, which is attracting a fair bit of research. I have posted about this before, search for Prof Claudia Mauri. Was at UCLH, now King’s I think.

    My RA flare avoidance & prevention foods - Dos & Donts 





    ☠️☠️whey proteins 

    ☠️peanut butter


    ☠️☠️Fructose & Invert Sugar corn syrup - factory baked products panettone, biscuits, absolute no no unless made at home.


    Small pieces of mango & papaya maybe 

    ☠️☠️Beans total no. No chilli con carne as lectins dissolved in sauce survive and result in tendon & ligament pain 

    Potatoes: Limit or avoid. Causes ligament weakening 


    Green salad smoothies

    Green salads. (No onions specific to an additional condition I have).

    Limited Beef 

    Mushroom risotto 


    Veg sushi

    Limited Bread, despite gluten, tolerated 

    Dark choc Lindt 90%

    Limited chips & potatoes


    Wellcome Foundation aubergine salad

    Strangely enough…

    McDonald’s Big Mac Meal with fries & Diet Coke perfectly ok!!!

    The hospital ultrasound verified I had none of the tell tale signs of active RA, even though my serology showed my immune system was ready to attack if triggered.

    I can trigger a flare at will now, just for the docs study by eating the “wrong food”. Unfortunately it takes 7 days at least for the damage to be repaired.

    Now… as for assuming the docs would tell you about the diet instead of expensive drugs from pharma companies that charge healthcare orgs a fortune and provide research grants and conference junkets… well… it’s not a perfect system, and as a very senior NHS rheumy told me, there isn’t a cure because there is no incentive to rock the boat or derail the gravy train, the pharma companies sell $40bn of autoimmune suppression drugs each year. I am not the only one, @Hairobsessed123 is similarly in true remission. (Not needing drugs).

    Medicine is big business, and any good that comes out is purely a bonus, the main objective is to make profitable drugs that are needed forever.

    I would highly recommend reading about Dr Barry Marshall, the Nobel Prize winner who dared to rock the boat, and was the basis of an excellent documentary.

    As everyone is different, you will need to be very aware of your own triggers to see if there is a navigable pattern.

    Both @Hairobsessed123 and I were treated with antibiotics for a skin infection, which coincidentally probably killed off the nasty gut bacteria that were our triggers. At least, that is what the young bright rheumy doing my ultrasound thought…

  • Gadgetgirl
    Gadgetgirl Member Posts: 38

    @Arthuritis This was interesting to read. Even more so that since you took the antibiotics and then stopped your MTX the RA has gone into remission. I've read so many people that have mentioned they have taken antibiotics for an infection and then the RA has gone. I wonder if it was more the antibiotics, rather than your diet as you're not the first person I've come across to mention them. Food for thought.

  • frogmorton
    frogmorton Member Posts: 29,236

    Morning @Gadgetgirl

    I also watch my diet, I don't actually exclude anything as such (although I am vegan for moral and environmental reasons), but i do include things which are known to have anti-inflammatory effects.

    That felt like a better way forwards for me given I am already vegan. I am trying hard to look after my gut microbiome by including as much 'colour' and variety of foods in my diet and have recently upped my greens for iron.

    I have been hoping for a good course of antibiotics myself since @Arthuritis and @Hairobsessed123 had theirs and subsequent remissions, but I have been annoyingly well!

    Take care and please do let us know how you get on

    Toni x

  • Arthuritis
    Arthuritis Member Posts: 441

    @Gadgetgirl I am afraid the theory I have formed & tested is a bit more complex. The antibiotics killed off the trigger that “offended” my trigger happy immune system. Unfortunately once an immune mistakenly decides to treat your own tissues as foreign and attack them.

    Diets or antibiotics will not change this mistaken memory held by memory B Cells, and the hospital indeed confirmed that my serology was still +ve, but for whatever reason, my joint cavities were not being attacked or vascularised to allow attacking T cells to enter.

    I believe the “whatever” reason was the absence of food proteins that either (or both) promote formation of malformed joint proteins that the immune attacks, and or stimulates proliferation of attacking T cells. The shortage of such proteins through diet prevents both. MTX works by competing with folate preventing rapidly dividing cells such as in white cells which needs abundant dietary protein from doing so. Fructose seems to feed the unwanted trigger gut bacteria causing it to proliferate and breach my leaky gut barrier. The reason why I say this is because invert sugar which is a factory cooking ingredient, is a mixture of fructose and glucose, accessible fructose to to the bacteria, but sucrose in normal table sugar does not trigger this, despite the fact it is also fructose and glucose chemically bound, but only split by the body’s master chemist, the liver. Fructose from the liver process is not available to the offending bacteria in the gut, but fructose from the diet, ie from cherries, mangoes and papaya IS available to the gut. If my gut was not damaged and leaky I would enjoy these, but it is leaky and I can’t. I have tested this theory by eating these foods and seeing the symptoms, and stopping, and seeing the symptoms disappear. With MTX disabling and crippling my immune system my immune system could not respond despite the presence of triggers ie the bacteria and the mistakenly identified joint proteins. However it also meant I was plagued with opportunistic infections despite a healthy varied diet, I even got shingles, so it was a tough choice, accept the diet restrictions but avoid the MTX nausea from the max dose of MTX, and avoid RA symptoms too. Not ideal, but tolerable.

    I had to stop MTX because 1) You are advised to stop if you are fighting an infection, you need a less crippled immune sys 2) MTX builds up to toxic levels with certain drugs including penicillin based antibiotics and the accumulated MTX can make you very ill indeed, as it did for me, to the point that I had to stop all work because I couldn’t think straight. This matters more if you are on a high MTX dose, as I was. Sadly, my gp did not check this when prescribing even though it is clearly contraindicated in the NICE/BNF. In his defence the MTX was prescribed by the hospital and antibiotics by gp, however both use the NHS prescription system and that system should have automatically flagged it up. But there is no such capability in the system even though it would be easy and cheap to add. It’s not prestigious enough like a big budget NHS project that has career & photo ops for politicians.

    What I found was what was intended to be a temporary MTX stop during my infection, I was able to stay off ever since. Previously I couldn’t be even 1 hour late for my weekly MTX, but now it’s 11months since my infection being treated. Hope that makes sense it is of some help.

  • sabrinaA
    sabrinaA Member Posts: 2

    I’ve had RA for nearly 20 years and when I was diagnosed I thought I would ‘beat’ RA with diet alone. Obviously that didn’t work and I started meds. I have tried various anti-inflammatory diets - such as no wheat, dairy, gluten and sugar. I’ve also done the Keto diet and I’ve done the autoimmune paleo diet.

    My experience was that none of them made a significant impact on the daily struggles of living with arthritis.

    I now believe that I am a sum of my parts - medication, exercise, food/diet, mental wellbeing, relationships, spirituality, etc. None will ever be perfect all the time, and I really need to take my own advice a lot of the time, but I think it takes the pressure off to solely rely on one part of our lives to alleviate the disease.

    Also, I started to understand that when everything felt out of control and I was in pain, food was the easiest and closest thing I could control, and that gave me a sense of being proactive and control in my life. It did unfortunately lead to an eating disorder, so now when I’m in pain I contact the GP and look at where things are going skew-wif for me.

    i hope that all made sense and didn’t come across as preachy. Like someone else posted, our reactions to food, environment, meds, are all so individual, so we can only learn through trial and error, which can be scary especially when we’re in pain.

    all the best.

  • Peebs
    Peebs Member Posts: 19

    Some good suggestions about gut microbiome and inflammatory responses on Zoe Health and Nutrition podcasts available on various podcast platforms and also YouTube

  • mosborn11
    mosborn11 Member Posts: 23

    I think this is a really balanced and helpful perspective - thank you! ❤️

  • Ribble
    Ribble Member Posts: 23

    Lots of comments on diet. I wonder if there’s any difference in the effects of diet on osteo and rheumatoid arthritis. Mine’s OA. I’m sure the jury is out on this one as well. Along with good old supplements. I do think it’s helpful to keep weight down of you are able to.