Eat to Live is the diet-style I recommend you use for your rheumatoid arthritis diet. In my opinion, your diet is the most important thing you should address if you are looking to treat your rheumatoid arthritis naturally.
This diet is outlined in Dr. Joel Fuhrman, M.D.'s book, Eat to Live: The Revolutionary Formula For Fast and Sustained Weigh Loss. Though it is a great weight loss program (I personally lost 30 lbs within the first few months and Dr. Oz says he refers all of his toughest weight loss cases to Dr. Fuhrman), it is also a simple, safe, and effective method for preventing and reversing diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
Eat to Live is not an expensive or complicated program. Really, all it costs is the price of the book (from $12.99 at his site - comes in paperback, eBook or Audio Book) and your time to read it.
The Eat to Live program is all about eating nutrient dense foods, foods that have a high proportion of nutrients to calories. The key formula is:
Health = Nutrients/Calories
This video shows Dr. Fuhrman explaining the nutrient-density concept:
This article on Dr. Fuhrman's site further explains nutrient density and lists some of the nutrient density scores!
On this plan, you eat large quantities of high-nutrient foods, like greens, vegetables, and fruits. There is no deprivation on the program. In fact, when you get started on the program, it is difficult to eat as much food as Dr. Fuhrman suggests. The ultimate goal is to eat (per day):
1 lb of raw vegetables
1 pound of cooked green vegetables
1 cup of beans or legumes
At least 4 fresh fruits a day (not juices)
1 serving of starchy vegetables or whole grains a day (people with RA tend to have wheat/gluten intolerances. Try to make this wheat/gluten free)
1 hand-full of raw nuts/seeds
Other important dietary requirements on the plan: No Salt, No added Sugar, No added oils, only 10% of calories from processed foods (including things like soy milk or tofu), DO take 1 tbsp ground flaxseed/day.
For the first six weeks of the program, no meat or animal products (e.g dairy) is allowed. After that, he does allow small quantities of fish or poultry, but studies show that people with rheumatoid arthritis do better with a vegan diet, so I would try to eliminate the meat altogether if you can, or at least most of the time. Other studies have shown that people with RA also tend to have intolerances to dairy, so I would try to cut that out altogether. There are some great milk alternatives these days that you can try - soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, hemp milk, etc.
This is a picture of the Life Plan Food Pyramid. You can get it as a handy refrigerator magnet on Dr. Fuhrman's website.
The first six weeks on the program are definitely the most challenging, especially if you are not a vegetarian. I've been a vegetarian most of my life, and consumed poultry only occasionally, so "going all the way" and becoming vegan wasn't a stretch for me. I love most vegetables. I used to crave yogurt or cheese, but now it's not even on my radar.
Other than letting go of foods that you potentially love (e.g. meat, dairy, salty, fatty, processed foods), learning how to cook and prepare (and enjoy) foods without salt and sugar and fat can be a challenge in the beginning, though I promise your taste buds will thank you later. After a while, you will have a new appreciation for the beautiful, natural flavor of foods.
If you take nothing else away from this site, I hope you take away Eat to Live. Buy a copy or grab it at the library and read it. It's not hokey, it's not a "fad" diet, it's common food sense. Eat to Live is an aggressive nutritional approach and it should be your first line of defense against rheumatoid arthritis. Some people with RA are more dietary sensitive than others, but you can only benefit from trying it. Don't do it half-way. Follow it to the "T" and you will likely see your RA symptoms improve. Mine have disappeared, and if I stray off the plan, my joints let me know it. Give it a try!
Helpful Eat to Live Links/Products:
DrFuhrman.com. I do recommend becoming a member - you can ask Dr. Fuhrman questions directly in the forum!